Every Sixers fan has by now heard about the trio of billboards that went up in Cleveland yesterday.
For the uninitiated here’s some background:
Philadelphia-based Power Home Remodeling sponsored three billboards that urge LeBron James to sign with the Sixers in free agency after this season. The three are placed in a row on a highway near downtown Cleveland. One of them reads “Philly Wants LeBron”, another says “Complete The Process”, and one shows the numbers of the 76ers’ projected starting five with James in the lineup.
Philly Views caught up with the company’s CEO Asher Raphael to get some answers on the motivation behind the billboards, the public response, and what LeBron James could do for the Sixers franchise.
A Philadelphia-based company put up three billboards on highway to downtown Cleveland this morning saying that city wanted LeBron. Here they are in order. pic.twitter.com/vntsa8h3mE
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 26, 2018
It started with a conversation between Raphael and work colleagues after dinner one night. They were talking about the Eagles and the team’s chances to win the Super Bowl.
This is on January 18. It was before the Eagles won the Super Bowl and brought the city a lifetime of happiness, and way before LeBron’s people were allegedly cruising through the Philly area to check out schools for his kids.
“It turned into the Sixers and how do they win an NBA championship,” Raphael said. “What really turned the conversation was us saying there’s four or five teams that have the cap space to sign LeBron. Why is Philly at the bottom of the list?”
“We’re the best team that he could go to, and because we’re Philly no one’s talking about it that way. Is there anything we can do to change the conversation?”
They were initially going to do the three billboards in Philly. Power Home Remodeling doesn’t have an office in Ohio, but if they really wanted to make an impact, they decided that’s where it needed to be. The next morning they got on the phones.
The full interview is below:
Note: This transcription has been shortened for editorial purposes.
PV: From a marketing perspective, what does this do for your business – awareness, national media attention?
Asher Raphael: This was not a marketing plan. Initially the art that we sent to the billboard company didn’t have our name or logo on it. Right before it went to print, they demanded that we do it because they said they were classifying it as a political ad.
So we agreed begrudgingly. We really wanted this to be an advertisement for Philadelphia … In retrospect I’m really happy that they forced us to do it because our name is out there and it’s being so well received.
PV: Have you noticed any increase or attention from clients or prospective clients?
AR: First off it’s kind of early to tell, but no, not yet, and I don’t anticipate it. I think the story is “a local company in from Philadelphia took out billboards.” The story is not “Power Home Remodeling took out billboards.” There’s no advertising on it, there’s no coupons. There’s nothing on our website about it.
What I can tell you is that I’ve never seen our people so happy. It would be hard to believe that the vibe in our office is more ecstatic than after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, but somehow that happened. They’re more excited and proud.
PV: Do you think doing this campaign this way, even if it came up serendipitously, will inform future advertising? Do you have anything else up your sleeve?
AR: Nothing up our sleeves. But I will say this came to us in a way that felt natural and authentic and in line with the values of the business. Whatever we put out to the universe it has to match and align with what we do internally and this one did.
There’s no victim, which is important … we didn’t go out attacking Cleveland. We think that the story of what is going on in Philadelphia isn’t really being told accurately and the story of what’s up with the Sixers isn’t being told accurately. It’s an amazing city and an amazing team and an amazing place to do business, and all those things are really encapsulated in a good fun way, with some really cool artwork.
PV: Have you heard anything from the Sixers, the Cavs, the NBA, or LeBron’s camp?
AR: Not at all and we made a point before the billboards went up to not have contact in any way with anyone we know from the Sixers … the last thing in the world we would want is to be the reason why LeBron didn’t come to Philly if something happened.
Nothing with the Cavs, but I did do two calls with sports radio stations in Cleveland. I felt like, you know what, if you’re taking out these ads you better get on the phone and let them yell at you a little bit about it.
PV: What went into choosing the lineup? I see no Redick, no Fultz – was that a hotly debated topic?
AR: It’s one of the reasons we went with what we did – the artwork itself. We had so much back-and-forth about it and thought the way that we’re having this conversation, people in Philly will have it the same way.
We just went with their starting five and left JJ out because JJ’s not going to start over LeBron. We left Fultz out for a good reason. There’s a reason debate about him and it just makes it more fun.
PV: Was it difficult to find a spot for this billboard in Cleveland. Like, was there pushback?
AR: There wasn’t pushback but finding the right location was hard. We wanted to make sure that we could get three in a row with unobstructed views. We found two that were closer to the stadium. We found two that were on LeBron’s drive directly.
To get three unobstructed views to get the entire message of the campaign across, there was one clear winner and that’s what we went with.
PV: If you had to guess, with this starting lineup that’s on the billboard, how many wins do the Sixers get next year?
AR: Even in their first season, before they get a chance to gel, I would put a lot of money on the line that they win the East. Whether they win a title in year one, I don’t know. But year one, they will win the East.