A Graphis 2023 Gold Award for Advertising was awarded for the “Roadside Attractions” (above) campaign to the agency Tombras, and the mastermind behind it, art director Silver Cuellar III, is always one to watch in the world of advertising. This time, the focus was on the “Great American Roadtrip” and how it stands in stark contrast to the often-frustrating experience of air travel. Through creative storytelling and eye-catching visuals, the campaign reminds travelers of the joys of hitting the open road and the memories that can be made along the way. Silver Cuellar III has proven that the Great American Roadtrip is still a cherished tradition, positioning Pilot Flying J as the go-to travel partner for those seeking the freedom of the road. Let’s take a closer look at the creative journey that brought this campaign to life.
By: Louie Spivak & Silver Cuellar III
During the 2022 Memorial Day weekend, more than 8 million people passed through the metal-detecting arches of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Some emerged from the experience unchanged. Most individuals transformed into disrobed, disheveled, disgruntled creatures commonly known as Passengers.
But all had the same question once they reached the other side – “is my flight canceled?” That weekend alone, more than 4,500 flights were. Even if their flights weren’t canceled, these passengers would still face several hours of confinement inside a metal tube surrounded by strangers. No wonder nobody talks about the “Great American Airtrip.”
The Great American Roadtrip, however, is a tradition that the people at Pilot Flying J hold dear in large part because it’s a tradition rooted in freedom: The freedom to go where you want. The freedom to go whichever way you want. And, in the case of this campaign, the freedom to stop and see the sights along the way.
When you’re barreling through the atmosphere flanked by two strangers fighting for their share of the armrests, your personal space suddenly isn’t so much. Nor can you pull over the plane to take a minute to stretch your legs, walk around the grass of a rest area, and, if you want, fill a bag full of your choice of hundreds of snacks and drinks on your terms. You’re at the mercy of a rectangular steel cart inching its way down the aisle of the aircraft.
By simply changing perspectives (and elevations), these ads show that roadside attractions are best seen from the road. After all, the Grand Canyon isn’t very grand from 30,000 feet up. Even Mount Rushmore starts to look an awful lot like a molehill. And while we focused on iconic sights in the so-called “flyover states,” the truth of this campaign applied to all road travel. That every mile is worth marking and that every stop can be a destination.
The reality is this campaign isn’t going to stop people from flying. It’s faster. And with rising gas prices, it’s often cheaper. But we did want to remind people of what they are giving up when they take to the skies, and that Pilot Flying J Travel Centers will be there for every mile of their journey.
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