Survey to ask if billboards are working

Wednesday March 10, 2010

PITTSFIELD — You can’t miss them.

There are two teenagers — one on the north end and one on the south end of Wahconah Street, looking out into the neighborhood.

The one teenage boy looking over his right shoulder wearing a black and red checked backpack is by the bridge outside of Pittsfield Cemetery. this image plastered to a billboard has multicolored lettering on it that states: “Totally Punk, Totally Free.”

Down the road, looking out over Ronnie’s Harley-Davidson shop and Wahconah Package & Variety on Wilson Street is another young man in a striped shirt with a message next to him: “Totally cool, Totally Free.”

The billboard signs are part of a public service announcement campaign called “Totally Free Berkshires: no Drinking, no Drugs, no way,” which was launched by the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership in may 2009.

Created by Fairbrother & Company, a marketing agency from Chatham, N.Y., the signs feature images of local teens who are portrayed as choosing to remain “totally free” of substances and at the same time are totally comfortable with who they are.

This week, the partnership has launched two online surveys — one for students and one for community members and parents — at Totally FreeBerkshires.org to evaluate the campaign to understand how the campaign is perceived in the community.

On Tyler Street, a teenage girl with a “Totally Chill”

slogan next to her head sits above a plaza that’s home to Hot Tomatoes Pizza and Mimi’s Closet, a consignment shop. Nicole Elser, an employee at Mimi’s, said she’s definitely noticed the billboard.

Though she’s not sure if it’s effective, she said it’s in a good location.

“Everyone stops at the traffic light out there and looks around, and there’s a lot of neighborhood kids that walk by here,” she said.

Karen Cole, coordinator of the PPP, said the survey results will determine whether the group will continue to market this campaign. she said the more input, the better.

“It will help us see whether we want to build on that theme or whether it missed the mark,” she said.

To take the survey: Visit www.totallyfreeberkshires.org. those who complete the survey will have the opportunity to register in a drawing for a Target store gift card.

Survey to ask if billboards are working