You’ll want to pull over to check out these Eagle Scout billboards

Eagle-Billboard-1Finally, a reason for rubbernecking you can feel good about.

Drivers in Kansas City this year have seen a series of Boy Scout billboards that rise far above those for gas stations, hotels or concerts.

The billboards target new Scouts and their parents by sharing facts about Eagle Scouts, such as they’re “76 percent more likely to be community leaders” and “twice as likely to graduate from college.”

The artwork shows Scouts doing what they do — having a great time outside.

Kansas City’s Heart of America Council received the creative work for the billboards for free, and a local billboard company gave them a great deal on placement of the billboards throughout the city for 12 months. Six billboard designs showed up in 23 different locations, including a mix of traditional vinyl billboards and newer digital ones.

How has the community reacted?

“We have gotten a great response from the billboards, and it certainly helps keep the good work of Scouting out in the public at a time when we can use all the positive publicity we can get,” says Heart of America Scout Executive Kenn Miller.

Which billboard design is your favorite? See them all after the jump.

32 thoughts on “You’ll want to pull over to check out these Eagle Scout billboards

  1. Great message. A thought: while the message is very good, showing young adults performing the activity mentioned by the message might be preferable to cub scouts in kid poses,

    • I think they are great. It is a recruiting campaign and is geared towards new Scouts…which most join at Cub Scout age….

  2. Why do pictures only show cub scouts doing goofy things? Don’t showing older boys at all. The boys in pictures don’t look to be anywhere near old enough to be boy scouts. Or to understand being an Eagle Scout.

    • Anne, the billboards (as the story says) are there to target new scouts and their parents. Yes, we all know Eagles scouts have a blast but they all started as new scouts. Most in Cub Scouts.

      • That was my take as well, Cannie. Parents want to see boys the same age as their son. And we hope Cub Scouts stay in to become those great Eagle Scouts.

  3. This is awesome! The BSA needs to enhance it’s image and do some marketing on a national scale! I would like to see this for Venturing also.

    • It’s not really feasible for National to direct a national recruting campaign. All National could do is run ads, and have no control over follow-up. In my experience, troops are extremely bad with cold contacts; they don’t return calls, contact info is incorrect, they don’t answer emails, etc. So, National can do a nationwide ad campaign, but if units aren’t on board then all they’ve done is create legions of frustrated prospective members.
      What National should–and does–do is create the campaign material and make it available to units and councils. has commercials, billboards, radio spots, flyers, doorhangers, etc. for -free- on their website, all a council has to do is send the files to the media outlet.

      • I’ve found it’s a good rule of thumb to always assume national is incompetent. Their master list of councils on their own website is about 9 years out of date. There are councils on there that dissolved in mergers almost a decade ago. I try to avoid dealing with them as much as possible. It seems they can’t do anything right. It’s much better for the individual councils to do this rather than national.

  4. It’s kind of like the things I say when I train cub scout leaders — as a mom whose two eagle scout sons began much like the little goofballs in the billboards, the program works to help parents make sure their children grow up to become good men.

  5. I think it’s brilliant! You have a picture of cub scout aged youth doing goofy things with a scouting setting in the background that draws the attention of impressionable youth while giving a statistic that’s aimed directly at parents. It achieves at least three objectives by appealing to youth, their parents and by keeping a positive scouting image out in the community. Bravo HOA Council!

  6. I like them all, but the one about community leaders really caught my eye. Those kids look they are up to shenanigans, much like many of the Scouters that I know.

  7. You won’t see these anytime soon in Maine should National decide to go national with them. We banned billboards as an eyesore back in the late 70’s.

  8. AWESOME. this is some of the best graphics I’ve seen for the BSA in quite sometime. Though it would have been nice to see more Boy Scout aged kids being profiled and a uniform in there everyonce in a while would be good. Even a uniform looking a bit rugged due to activity.

  9. 1. should show activities that Cub and Boy Scouts do.
    2. Should talk about what Scouting in general does for boys because only 3- 5 % of all scouts get to Eagle rank.

  10. I think it’s confusing. How do I join Eagle Scouts? Well, you can’t you join Cub Scouts, then Boy Scouts – then with the right leadership skills become an Eagle.

  11. If it works, I won’t argue, but i would like to see some recruiting at the sixth grade level. Our pack is doing well, but our troop is not. They shouldn’t wait around for our boys to cross over. They should have a recruitment plan, too, but I’ve asked, and no one seems to have a plan.

  12. Indiana has a great display at their County Fair listing how many and what type of community service events scouts did that year in the area, one listing all the merit badges and explaining ‘ preparing scouts for the future’,one listing famous people that were scouts. One listing the scout law and emphasis on character. Great display,Indiana and as gotten Big increase in recruiting at all levels. There are lots of groups that offer social stuff and kids can be goofy. The ads need to emphasize what sets scouts apart: preparing For life; community service;character counts as well as having fun and being outdoors. You would not believe how many people stopped to read the displays –especially about STEM–and said I didn’t know THAT! Billboards are great idea. We need national campaign. But this s too vague and goofy. %more likely doesn’t say what was done this year or last year by scouts.

  13. I usually make the same claims when I speak to parents.
    There is really no evidence of cause-and-effect.
    Just as likely that the kid who becomes and Eagle Scout is also the kind of kid who graduates from college, gives to charity, protects the environment, etc. We can hope that what a Scout learns on the trail to Eagle increases his chance of doing those things but it’s not been demonstrated.

    Similarly it’s shown that kids who take more math in HS have higher college graduation rates. Maybe the same drive to take more math is the same drive that gets kids through college.

    Regardless of the above, let’s recruit kids into Scouting. (And have them take more math!) But be prepared for challenges to the statistics…

  14. I think that any PR campaign is a good start. We definitely don’t do enough of it. I also agree with some other people that I do think that it could have been done a little better. Some pictures of cubs having a lot of fun doing what Cubs like to do would work better I think, (pictures of S’Mores and campfires and pinewood derby, etc).

  15. I’m from the council that has these billboards, but have yet to see one. I guess I’m not driving in the right places. I think they had a billboard campaign a couple of years ago, but it was more serious. Maybe they think they are going for a lighter version this time.

    I have mixed emotions on this campaign with the billboards shown. On one hand, I know they are trying to get Cub Scouts to join and are trying to make the connection that Eagle Scouts often start out as Cub Scouts. On the other hand, what do silly faces have to do with completing college? Why not show an Eagle Scout at a COH with him receiving his college diploma in a side-by-side photo?

    On the volunteer one, why couldn’t they have shown Scouts helping to plant a tree as the council has a volunteer day in April every year. I think it was my son’s Tiger or Bear year when he helped to plant over 50 trees in one of the city’s parks. Then, there would be connection between the volunteerism and the Scout.

    On the personal goals one, how about a Scout reaching the top of a climbing wall or a mountain showing that a goal has been met. I don’t see a connection with a kid blowing a bubble.

    On the Community Leaders, why not have a photo of a local politician who was a Scout? Maybe with a group of Cub Scouts doing something with him? The most famous Scouter in the council ever, H. Roe Bartle, was the Kansas City Mayor for several years after retiring as a Scout Executive.

    For protecting the environment, how about a bunch of Scouts picking up a messy vacant lot turning it into a place the neighborhood kids could play?

    For donating to charity, show the Scouts helping out a Harvesters or some other organization that they have done.

    I don’t know who the marketing folks ran the campaign ads by, but I would have given them about a 3 on a 1-10 scale. I don’t think it will attract as many Cub Scouts as they think. It will be interesting to find out the results. I will give them a grade of “E” for effort.

    • I’d say the goal of the project was to show young scouts to appeal to the Cub age, then use the Eagle facts to attract the parents who have the final say

      • I agree with Professional Eagle. There’s a level of sophistication here that most wouldn’t be overtly aware of.

        It’s clearly geared to new potential scouting parents. Notice there aren’t any uniforms in the billboards?

        This is creative, sophisticated and effective advertising. The images grab your attention, the tagline gives you just enough info to peak your interest, the BSA branding solidifies and unifies the campaign, and the URL directs you to learn more about

        It’s simple and silly, and that’s the hook.

      • The Coca-Cola CEO once told our 3-Star general, “50% of our advertising doesn’t work . . . I just can’t tell you which 50%.” Even the professional admen often do not know what will resonate with their target audience which usually makes it a hit and miss proposition.

  16. While I understand the need to recruit young scouts I also see a need to show older boys participating in the things that will help retain boys in scouting. We have been fortunate here in our troop in Maine to have leaders who are about a “boy lead” program and keeping the troop active. I feel blessed that my two sons(one an Eagle and one a merit badge and finished project away from Eagle) have been a part of an active program.

  17. These are great! One problem – Councils have no marketing budget. PERIOD.

    So unless National BSA is going to start chucking these up – they will rely on private dollars – and according to what I have seen – they don’t have $5K per month to keep them up for extended periods.

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