Driving back home from Fort Walton Beach after Hurricane Irma ripped through Tampa, Jennifer Tuel noticed how barren the roadways appeared. Almost every billboard had either been stripped of its signage or shredded.
“It was eerie,” she said. “We had all experienced and seen the torn billboards driving back from our evacuations routes.”
Tuel and a few others from the advertising company 22Squared stood on the 23rd floor of a downtown Tampa business building with a mission at hand – rebuild Florida’s hopes by using the scraps Irma left behind.
‘It means a lot,” said 22Squared associate creative director, Garen Boghosian. “It’s the most important piece of advertising that we work on.”
In front of the group laid a gigantic rectangle of black vinyl, holding the leftover pieces of billboard that survived Irma’s winds. Quotation marks from old signs had been cut out, like a giant scrapbook, and secured to the billboard base using plastic zip ties.
The message on the patchwork was clear:
“We may be torn, but we’re still together”
“It was an interesting challenge because I had to do a letter inventory,” said Luke Sokolezicz, who came up with the slogan. “It’s like, OK, I have this headline. Do I have the letters to craft this headline?”
The headline will stretch across two billboard sites in Ft. Myers, Fla., one of the hardest hit portions of the state. Lamar Outdoor Media, a business and advertising partner of 22Squared, donated the sign space to display the designer’s message.
“It was really cool to have an idea that was taking what Irma destroyed and bringing it back to life,” said Tuel as she taped down a two-foot tall ‘E’.
The entire project was recorded for a documentary by the Movie Groovy production company. The design group is setting up a hurricane relief donation website that will be live on Tuesday, called IrmaGivesBack.org.