When a renegade billboard company sought to change the law in the City of West Hollywood to allow an increase in the number of billboards in the City, it put a measure on the ballot to tax billboards as a justification for the expansion. With West Hollywood being one of the most liberal cities in the County, a billboard tax seemed like a sure bet at the ballot box for the company. However, traditional sign companies feared that if the tax passed, not only would it hurt their business in West Hollywood but would spur efforts by municipalities across the nation to enact similar taxes, which would have been devastating to the industry. That’s when the industry hired the Afriat Consulting Group to take on the daunting task of beating the billboard tax.
ACG brought together one of the most diverse coalitions in the City’s history in order to defeat the effort. Community activists, elected officials, business and environmental leaders all rallied to defeat the tax. ACG’s cutting-edge direct mail program, combined with an aggressive earned-media strategy was pitted against a Yes campaign with unlimited financial resource. Despite being outspent 2:1, ACG delivered a stunning defeat to the billboard tax, winning 79.8% of the vote. The national media response to the overwhelming victory helped to defuse brewing efforts at billboard taxes nation-wide, delivering a huge victory to the billboard industry.