Sticking Up for Billboards in Utah

Earlier this week there was a guest opinion published in the Deseret News titled “Is it time for Utah to ban billboards.” Here’s a letter written by YESCO’s Pat O’Donnell and Reagan Outdoor’s Dewey Reagan which the Deseret Times published yesterday in response.

Up or Down on Billboards . . . We Can All Agree on These Principles

A column published by the Deseret News October 13, calling for a billboard ban, raises important issues about constitutional freedoms and corporate responsibility.

Yes, people debate about billboards but most everyone can agree on these principles:

  • Good corporate citizens try to solve problems

Over time, American attitudes about seatbelts and drunk driving have changed: most passengers now buckles up and drunk driving is not cool.

Many change agents pushed this shift, including public safety billboards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now uses “digital” billboards on behalf of safety.

Law enforcement and emergency authorities rely on billboards to find fugitives and communicate with the public.

In Utah, Reagan Outdoor Advertising donated thousands of dollars in digital (electronic) billboard space to promote Covid-19 testing on the Navajo Nation. The outdoor advertising industry in Utah routinely provides pro bono space to community organizations such as the L.D.S. Church, the Buddhist Temple, and the Urban Indian Center.

  • Innovation drives our economy

Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) was founded 100 years ago by an immigrant who hand-painted signs in Ogden. YESCO is now a tech leader in lighting, engineering, and signage.

Signs once painted by hand are activated by computers. The ability to change messages quickly helps advertisers and communities.

After the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping in 2002, printed billboards were posted to seek tips and advertise the reward for her return. By 2008, AMBER Alerts were transmitted quickly to digital billboards.

  • Banning legal business is extreme

Regulation of business is the norm, not government bans. The billboard industry supports regulation.

Most Americans agree that regulation is preferable to arbitrary government banishment of legal businesses. If you accept bans as legitimate government policy, then you should ask “who’s next?”

Patrick O’Donnell and Dewey Reagan, Salt Lake City

Insider’s take.  Kudos to YESCO and Reagan  for a timely, powerful and positive response.  Public opinion is important.  Have your talking points ready.  Respond quickly and positively when the anti-billboard crowd speaks.  

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One Comment

  1. The photo that was included in the original anti-billboard article is very misleading. I see three faces from that viewpoint. The rest is all on-premise business signage. The unfortunate thing is, many readers wouldn’t know the difference.