They greet you throughout the city, proclaiming news of the upcoming film fest, ongoing museum exhibitions, coming-soon community fundraisers and events, even smiling Cherry Festival Queens of long ago.
High above the road, hanging from city light poles, these banners showcase information – a method Margaret Kelly calls a “gentle, in-your-face” kind of messaging.
“It’s just a really nice way to publicize an event,” says Kelly, member of the TC Reads committee, which is featuring its 2010 community book club pick Dreamers of the Day on 10 light-pole banners along Grandview Parkway. “You want to have a splash, so it captures people’s eyes. If they see several, they get the message.”
The prime real estate of light-pole advertising is made available only to nonprofits and local government agencies through the Traverse City Light Pole Banner Program. The city has partnered with Britten Banners on the program and recently renewed the local company’s contract to design, create, install and dismantle the banners.
The city long has used banners on its light poles, but Britten’s involvement in recent years established a more definitive program, says Dave Taylor, market leader at Britten who oversees the light-pole program.
“I think like most communities, the city uses the banners as a vibrant way to welcome people to the city, add some colors to the streets, highlight events and other happenings of local nonprofit groups,” Taylor says, adding that Britten’s role allows for “one-stop shop” services, including installation using the company’s patented BannerSaver brackets. “It’s kind of the secret part of it. People drive down the streets and don’t see the brackets. But the reason the banners are up there and look great for a long period of time is because of these spring-loaded, wind-spilling banner brackets.”
Rob Bacigalupi, deputy director of the Downtown Development Authority, calls the program a great opportunity for nonprofits that may not otherwise have the budget for such prominent advertising space. Working with a local company on the project makes it all the sweeter, he says.
“Britten has done a really nice job,” he says. “We’re thankful they’re a local company. There are some other firms who can do parts of what they do, but they do the design, production of the banners, the installation – they can do it all …They’re all high quality and they add to the aesthetic of the city. It’s been great for the community.”
The city, which reviews each banner request, also benefits from the program by earning $10 for each banner created and hung. So far, the program has generated $10,950 for the city, though how those funds will be spent has yet to be determined, Bacigalupi says.
The program works like this: Organizations in Grand Traverse, Leelanau or Antrim counties pay $140 per banner – a cost that includes printing for the 30-by-72-inch double-sided banners, installation with the company’s patented brackets, replacement in event of storm damage, and removal. Groups have up to 30 days to promote their cause or event, and can choose from approximately 290 different light poles throughout the greater downtown area.
Some groups opt for their banners to be re-purposed into gift items with the help of priorLIFE, a subsidiary of Britten that takes the vinyl banners and turns them into tote bags and other items. This was something the TC Reads organization did with the banners promoting last year’s book pick, Jerry Dennis' The Living Great Lakes.
“We gave one to the author’s mother and one to the author’s wife,” Kelly says.