The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Going live on the Sunset Strip: A new billboard pole

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Billboards along the Sunset Strip have long been used to promote music, movies, fashion and more. But the city of West Hollywood has been rethinking the aesthetics of the displays, as well as the economics. 

On Wednesday, city officials and the local Chamber of Commerce will unveil one result of that process near the strip's intersection of La Cienega: a billboard pole with a new twist. Designed by LA-based Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, the cobalt blue, V-shaped structure near the intersection of La Cienega looks like a piece of modern sculpture.

“It’s really beautiful and it’s exceptional, and I think it will reset the standard for new billboards and revised billboards on the sunset strip,” West Hollywood City Councilman John D’Amico told KPCC.  

A photographer for Wehoville got to watch the billboard pole under construction.   

New look  -  New revenue stream

West Hollywood is also resetting the way it manages Sunset Strip billboards to cash in on the strip’s high value in outdoor advertising.  D’Amico says the city has traditionally collected minimal fees from billboard companies every time the image on a billboard changes, but new revenue sharing agreements could bring the city as much as $1 million per year.      

The company behind the anticipated new billboard pole, ACE Outdoor Advertising, is paying the city roughly $10,000 per month to have it there.  Managing Partner Brad Yacullo said it's worth it.

"Locations such as Times Square and the Sunset Strip, that is where you see some of the largest values in terms of real estate billboard property," Yacullo said in an interview with KPCC.  

ACE Outdoor is a young boutique billboard company fighting for its place in a market dominated by the likes of Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor.  Getting space on the Sunset Strip is big achievement. 

"It's a very difficult market to break into, because the landowners are very sophisticated in how they do business with the billboard companies," Yacullo said.

The new billboard pole structure is going up on a property that was a lot less popular than others, Yacullo explained. 

"We were able to maybe take a distressed property up on the strip, and turn it into something more of value," Yacullo said. 

Councilman D'Amico, who becomes Mayor of West Hollywood next week, said because billboards are part of the Sunset Strip’s cultural identity,  he’s ready to see more innovative billboards there: projected billboards, lit-up billboards, 3-dimensional billboards.

"The kinds of things that used to make what used to be a billboard culture along the Sunset Strip something that people would drive miles and miles to come and see, "  D'Amico said. 

The strip sits in the middle of a greater Los Angeles that has been hostile to billboards of late, but D'Amico says it's an exception. 

"Certainly, none of us want more billboards along Melrose or Fairfax or Santa Monica Boulevard, but the Sunset Strip, that's part of the culture of the Sunset Strip," D'Amico said.   




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