Our Billboard Campaign that Crashed and Burned

Picture this—a small town in the rural Midwest, population 7,000. Now imagine over one million men and women, leather-clad and sweating, riding hundreds of miles on their motorcycles to reach this tiny place in a matter of weeks. Welcome to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Think of all the sore butts and miles of bike-to-bike traffic. We did. Actually, CWS was given a unique opportunity to purchase digital billboard space above the famous Full Throttle Saloon during the rally. Here was the catch: We had three days to plan, decide, and create everything we needed for it. Our employees lead busy lives, so finding time to meet was a challenge in itself, let alone creating a campaign specially designed for the Sturgis audience, and then to execute the necessary elements in a very short period.

Buying the billboard space above the Full Throttle Saloon was intentional. When 1,000,000 people enter a small town, roads get congested, and it was our hope that the billboard would be seen by everyone slow-rolling down the highway. Many who come to the rally are entrepreneurial bikers or vendors who may be looking for a website upgrade. That’s who we targeted.

It was a frantic and difficult few days, but Alan De Keyrel, Sarah Link, Sheryl Barlow, and Ethan Herber pulled through. We were excited! We had our billboard, it looked great, and on July 31, we launched to the world—or at least the Black HillsFixMySuck.com.

To appeal to our audience, the design was edgy—an attractive woman whom we felt hit the target audience asking, “Does your website suck?” We created a special URL that appeared on the billboard: FixMySuck.com. If they typed FixMySuck.com into a browser, it brought them to this landing page.

What were the results?

Funny you should ask.

The FixMySuck.com landing page received:

  • Views: 42
  • Submissions: 2
  • New Contacts: 1
  • Customers: 0

Did you just do a double take? We did, too. Less than 1/10,000th of a percent (0.00004%) of the people who visited Sturgis, and potentially saw the billboard, went to the website. Of those, we gained just 1 contact. (Who didn’t return any of our phone calls). It looks as though the constant hum of Harleys, combined with the mesmerizing allure of chrome, was too much for our audience to handle.

When we started this, we wondered whether this campaign would flop—and we certainly got a clear answer. Sure, our website didn’t get as much traffic as did the tiny town of Sturgis, but we’re glad to have had the chance to test the waters.

Our billboard campaign may have crashed and burned but the ironic part of this story is that so did the Full Throttle Saloon. Literally. On September 8th, videos and photos circulated along with the sad story of the Full Throttle Saloon’s demise. It was odd to watch as it burned to the ground with our billboard eerily rising above the flames and smoke.


(Source: BikersPost.com)

Not every campaign can be a home run, and sometimes they even crash and burn, as did our FixMySuck.com campaign over the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, SD.

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