1999: Local ‘God Speaks’ billboard campaign becomes a national PSA in 1999

To celebrate the Ad Club of New York's 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

God Speaks

Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Charlie Robb, partner and creative director at Charchin Creative. Below, find out why the ‘God Speaks’ billboard campaign from the late ‘90s is his favorite marketing moment.

When it comes to marketing moments, the God Speaks outdoor campaign in the late ‘90s certainly qualifies! In 1998, an anonymous client gave the Smith Agency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, $150,000 to create an advertising campaign to reach people who used to be faithful to a religion but had drifted away.

The ad agency came up with a humorous, thought-provoking, nondenominational series of quotes from God, run on billboards.

- “Wherever you go, there I am."

- "I don't question your existence."

- “Don’t make me come down there.”

- "If we don't communicate, you haven't got a prayer."

- “Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer.”

- “You think it’s hot here?”

- “That Love thy neighbor thing, I meant that.”

The campaign created such a positive response that the Outdoor Advertising Association of America picked it as its public-service campaign for the year and began ran it on 10,000 billboards in two hundred cities nationwide. God Speaks has been featured on the Today show, ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, CNN and covered by more than two thousand newspapers and countless local radio and television stations and in print magazines (everything from Readers Digest to Rolling Stone). It ultimately became a book, written by creative director Charlie Robb and published by the Villard Division of Random House. It sold 50,000 copies the first year.

All that for $150,000 investment. Talk about ROI.

See the full 120 Marketing Moments in the dedicated online section and find out how to purchase the exclusive book.

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