I live in Brooklyn, NY, and like all savvy New Yorkers, I know that whenever I need to drive out of the city headed west, the fastest way out of town will be to avoid Manhattan traffic by crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. If you don’t know this bridge by name, you might recognize it if you saw it: It is famous for being the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, it is the starting line for the NYC marathon and it was featured prominently in the movie Saturday Night Fever.
A few years ago, the Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, decided to add a highway sign on the Expressway approaching the bridge that says “Leaving Brooklyn? Fuhgeddaboudit”
I get a chuckle whenever I see the sign, but of course, not everyone who sees it feels the same way I do. When it was first posted, there were debates in the local papers about whether this sign was a good use of taxpayer dollars, or whether it emphasized negative stereotypes of Brooklyn accents, or whether the word Fuhgeddaboudit was even spelled right (doesn’t it have four “D’s”?)?
My take on this sign is that it is a master stroke of marketing and visual communication and it has a lesson that all of us who enable enterprise communications can learn from.
The fact is that the sign that immediately follows this one, which was put up by the MTA, strikes a very different tone. The next sign indicates that the Verrazano toll plaza is coming up, and the cost for a single passenger vehicle to cross is now $13.00.
Let’s net it out: The Verrazano is the most expensive toll bridge in the United States.
The lesson for communicators is simple: Use a sign – or a joke – or whatever you can – to be the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.
If you are looking for more ideas on how to build compelling messaging, I suggest you check out Mark Ragan’s excellent website. Mark is both a Qumu customer and a Qumu partner, but he is also an all-around communications savant, and his site is an excellent resource for communications professionals. On this topic of video communication, watch this video “The No. 1 secret to a great presentation.”