If you've driven around Michigan in the first few days of 2024, you've likely seen a billboard that quickly popped up with messages referring to the Detroit Lions controversial loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Two versions have appeared. The first reads "Decker Reported" referring to the heart of the controversy - if tackle Taylor Decker reported as an eligible receiver.

Decker Reported billboard
Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV
via YouTube

The other billboard shows the team's official win/loss record of 11-5 "corrected" to 12-4.

11-5 vs 12-4 Detroit Lions record billboard
Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV
via YouTube

A WDIV/Detroit anchor, in reporting on the billboards, called them "salty" and they are that.

The boards have appeared in at least metro Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Who is Really Behind the Detroit Lions Billboards?

The boards are all digital. That allows them to be designed and posted quickly. There's no hard cost in the creation and installation of paper boards. That is how they started showing up so quickly.

The message at the bottom of the boards says "PFB Anonymous Donor," PFB likely shorthand for "paid for by."

So consider: Coming back from a holiday someone would need to get in contact with a billboard company and quickly get a work order written up, paid, designed and implemented.

That's an awfully quick turnaround and even more so on a holiday weekend.

Or consider - this may just be a really solid marketing ploy, called earned media, for the billboard company, Outfront Media. Earned media involves doing something that gets the attention of traditional media outlets without needing to purchase an advertising schedule - like this article.

Want another example of earned media, think Taco Bell's 'Steal a Base, Steal a Taco' campaign during the World Series. Media reports widely on ploys like that without Taco Bell needing to purchase an advertising campaign.

So could this be an attention-driving campaign for a billboard company to prove how well outdoor advertising works?

Consider further that billboard companies regularly run campaigns that draw attention like this one from December that ran in the New York/New Jersey area congratulating Rutgers on an appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Or this billboard from the Houston, Texas area that played on the cross-state rivalry between Texas's two MLB teams.

You be the judge. Could an anonymous donor put together the Detroit Lions billboard campaign? With certainty, it could have gone down that way.

Or is this very, very clever marketing by an outdoor advertising firm?

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