Alexandria, VA – When Michael and Son Services president, Basim Mansour, recently purchased Street Scene Media, a small Northern Virginia mobile billboard advertising service, he thought about two things: First, he liked the technology. “I’ve always been fascinated with electronics, how things work and that sort of thing,” said Mansour, “and I was drawn to the concept of being able to change a billboard message almost immediately, no fuss, no muss. LED billboards are what I refer to as a WOW! technology and unlike the west coast, their use here in the DC area is still nascent and I wanted in on the ground floor.”
But the second reason represents Mansour’s business savvy. “Since 1976, we’ve built a very successful home improvement and repair service and I’m confident advertising has played a significant role in that growth,” said Mansour. “I already have some 150 trucks and other vehicles canvassing the area with their HVAC, electrical and plumbing messaging, so I was already a believer in traveling billboards. Then, when I decided to move our base of operations alongside heavily-trafficked I-395, the fit seemed obvious. I thought, ‘Why not buy this cutting-edge advertising medium that will enhance the marketing we already do for Michael and Son and at the same time, serve as a sustained business in its own right?’ It just made sense to me.”
Michael and Son today have one LED fixed board (facing 395 northbound traffic) and one LED mobile billboard atop a flatbed truck; a third board, also fixed (this one facing 395 southbound traffic) will be up soon.
Mansour can’t recall the exact moment he got the notion to turn over some portion of the billboards’ messaging to community goodwill; he just explains that it dovetails nicely with the Michael and Son business profile. “I knew the signs could be used for public service announcements, things including missing persons and Amber Alerts, that sort of thing, and I knew,” said Mansour, “that it was the right thing to do. I had my office administrator reach out to various groups and Fairfax County Crime Solvers responded almost immediately, saying the LED signs would be much appreciated. Bottom line for me was if my electronic billboards could help in the Crime Solvers program by being the springboard to “tips” from citizens that ultimately lead to arrests or the location of missing adults and juveniles…well, what a great thing that’d be,” said Mansour.
Tom Coyle, the Chairman of Fairfax County Crime Solvers, said that “Michael & Son Services represents the best of the business community. They are an essential partner in the mission of Crime Solvers. The success of our organization is dependent upon our partnerships with business leaders, the media and the public all working together to make Fairfax County a safe place to live, work and visit. Michael & Son Services should be commended for their outreach efforts.”
Mansour said he’d like to add more stationary and fixed LED signage moving forward, anticipating being contacted by other ‘good causes’ that would serve the area. “Wherever they are,” said Mansour, “I see a 24/7/365 exposure opportunity that I’d like to see foster a nice mix of Michael and Son advertising with community announcements. For example, last summer I ran a message that said: YOUR WIFE IS HOT. BETTER FIX YOUR A/C. That was a business message but it drew lots of happy replies. And when the economy was really tanking, we ran a message that simply said: TODAY IS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY! You’d be surprised at the number of ‘thank yous’ that simple public service message generated.”
Electronic billboards will never completely replace standard signage but their value as instant messengers cannot be overlooked. So Mansour concluded, “With technology becoming less expensive, people will see the value in being able to change their message, and do so quickly. LED offers huge advantages, in my view, because of its flexibility. And along the way, if that technology allows Michael and Son to be good stewards of community involvement with things like Fairfax County Crime Solvers, all the better.”