I Made a Billboard of my Friend Michael Chang
By @alexcornell // 06.17.15
From 2012-2014 I rented a billboard in San Francisco, at the corner of Union and Fillmore. The 12×6 wall estate displayed a photo of my friend Michael Chang, a proclamation that he is famous, and an invitation to either call or text him at the displayed number. The number went to my Google Voice account and I fielded incoming leads in my spare time.
The billboard was an exercise in pure nonsense–a project undiluted by purpose or objective. There were no marketing goals or performance metrics. No one had Tweetdeck open waiting to engage potential customers.
It was simply a billboard about Michael Michael Chang and his fame. With a phone number. Turns out, when you put a phone number on a public wall, people will call it.
Each day I received at least three texts and one phone call. People called to speak with Michael, to find out why he has a billboard, and to hear about his fame. They called to get answers. Below are some of my favorite exchanges:
When it went up, I certainly didn’t expect the amount of engagement it got (these are a small sample). You can’t underestimate people’s curiosity when it comes to billboards and phone numbers. It got to a point where I had to disable Google Voice notifications, especially on weekends.
Sadly the billboard was removed when the man I leased it from defaulted on his payments to the building, skipped town, and stole my money. I wasn’t surprised (the billboard industry doesn’t scream *reliability*), but I was sad. As were the many fans of the billboard.
The billboard was an exercise in pure nonsense--a project undiluted by purpose or objective.
We all miss it and long for its glorious return. For now, it’s been replaced by a real estate agency advertisement. I have nothing to do with that.
The number is no longer monitored, but you can always visit the website and listen to the Michael Chang song.