My face has been up on a San Francisco billboard on 10th and Howard for the past week. I knew the billboard was up, but I didn’t have a chance to see it until today, and I didn’t tell anyone that my face was on it. I wasn’t being modest, I was just busy, and I didn’t think to tell anyone about it.
Frankly, I didn’t really think that anyone would discover it on their own. Sure, a billboard is huge, and it got good placement, but I personally tune out billboards, and my picture was just one of many.
So I was delighted and amused when I started getting texts and emails from friends and colleagues this past week confirming that it was indeed me on that billboard. In theory, I should have expected this to happen, but the reality is that I’m so immersed in my own little, mostly digital world, it’s easy for me to forget the immense power and reach of good ol’ fashioned analog media.
Which brings me to the real story — the story of the billboard itself and the tool, called Louder, that enabled the billboard to happen.
A few months ago, my friend, Christie George, posted on Facebook about an anti-Muslim smear campaign where a certain individual with lots of money and very little sense was purchasing hateful ads on San Francisco city buses. Christie and her friends were organizing a counter campaign to purchase a prominent billboard stating, “Hate has no place in our city.”
The proposition was simple. If enough people gave a little bit of money, we could fight fire with fire by amplifying a message that truly represented the people of San Francisco. As a clever bonus, the billboard would include pictures of the donors. Almost 100 people donated, resulting in a successful campaign and the billboard that is up today.
This notion of crowdfunding advertising is brilliant, and it is made possible by a tool appropriately called Louder. Founded by Colin Mutchler and Christie, Louder is a community organizer’s dream tool, because it enables movements to level the media playing field. Just as Kickstarter is enabling anyone to invest in projects they care about, Louder enables anyone to amplify messages they care about. This goes well beyond Facebook likes or online petitions, resulting in broader reach and greater impact.
I am proud to have been a minor contributor to such a worthwhile campaign. I especially loved getting to experience this innovative way to make a difference.