Local News

Short-lived mating bears billboard a marketing success

SPOKANE, Wash. - There was a bear-y unique sight in Downtown Spokane Monday afternoon, but it didn't last long. 

For just 15 hours, a billboard depicting two bears mating was displayed prominently at 1st and Washington. The billboard was created by a local clothing company called The Great PNW. 

And while a small number of social media users found the billboard to be inappropriate, most were laughing at the adult-themed image. 

The billboard went viral online, being shared by thousands of social media users after it appeared on the subreddit r/Spokane on Reddit. 

"I didn't expect it to go quite like this. Did I expect people to talk about it and to show up on social media and stuff? Yes. This big and this fast? No. Not at all," said Joel Barbour, owner of The Great PNW. 

What Barbour did expect though, was that the billboard would get people talking. He was hoping it would give people some laughs, and maybe get featured on the news. It certainly did that and more. 

"It's been exactly what any marketer wants. The things just to go viral online, people talk about it, it's not, for the most part, not in a negative way. It's funny," he said. 

What many have assumed about this billboard is that it was part of a slick marketing campaign. That's actually not the case at all. Barbour said the image was chosen from a hat the company was working on out of desperation. 

"I needed something to go up on that billboard. I knew I had bought that space and didn't have a design for it. So, it was kind of like a last minute, like, oh this will be pretty funny to put on a billboard," Barbour said. 

And if you think the image leaves room for interpretation, think again. 

"I mean, the bears are having sex. It's very clear," he said. 

But just hours after it went up, it was down. Lamar, the company that owns the billboard quickly swapped the image for a more family-friendly billboard they had stored in their warehouse. The bears were only busy for about 15 hours. 

Lamar says the image was a mistake and put up after it slipped through the cracks. It says the image should have never been put up in the first place. 

Barbour says his company will probably never be using another image like this. 

"I doubt they'll let anything like this go through again," he said. 

If you didn't get enough driving by, The Great PNW is now selling those mating bears on t-shirts. 


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