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For Greensboro company, Patrick Cannon scandal is billboard material

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/31/17/14/oMg0L.Em.138.jpeg|177
    DEVETTA BLOUNT - WFMY
    This digital billboard went up over the weekend on Battleground Avenue in Greensboro. Outdoor Signage does pop culture ads to bring attention to its signs.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/31/17/14/15safZ.Em.138.jpeg|174
    Devetta Blount-WFMY -
    This digital billboard making fun of the recent corruption scandal in Charlotte involving former Mayor Patrick Cannon went up over the weekend on Battleground Avenue in Greensboro. The billboard features a doctored photo of Cannon standing in a waist-high pile of cash, the city of Charlotte skyline in the background. Two messages appear next to the ad: “Charlotte mayor says show me the money!” and “All this can be yours for the right price.”

The Patrick Cannon scandal has made for daily headlines in Charlotte. In Greensboro, it’s become the butt of billboard jokes.

Since last week, a digital billboard owned by Marty Kotis’ company has been turning heads with its ad that makes fun of Cannon’s arrest last week on public-corruption charges.

The ad features a doctored photo of Cannon standing in a waist-high pile of cash, the city of Charlotte skyline in the background. Two messages appear next to the ad: “Charlotte mayor says show me the money!” and “All this can be yours for the right price.”

Outdoor Signage, which owns the billboard, decided to turn the Cannon ordeal into one of the company’s “pop culture” ads, Kotis said. Similar ads in the past have taken aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the birth last year of Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s first baby.

The goal of the pop culture ads, Kotis said, is to get people to pay attention to the billboard, so they see the other, more serious ads.

“It’s designed to get people to look up, see it and talk about it,” he said.

Kotis said he’s not trying to make a political statement with the ad.

“I would do the same thing if he was a Republican or a Democrat. I’m a Republican,” he said.

The billboard overlooks Battleground Avenue and sits on land owned by another company Kotis owns, Kotis Properties. It’s near Westover Gallery of Shops, a shopping center north of downtown Greensboro.

Kotis said it’s the only billboard he owns since he jumped into the billboard business last year. Now, he’s doing what he can to get people to notice it. At the moment, that means coming up with as many Cannon ads as Outdoor Signage can by combing through the federal affidavit that outlines the allegations against Cannon.

“We’re having a little bit of fun with it here,” he said.

So, what will the next Cannon-inspired ad be? Kotis said it’ll probably focus on the trip Cannon took to Las Vegas last year. According to the affidavit, Cannon agreed to lie to foreign investors on the trip.

Kotis doesn’t plan to stop there. In his estimation, the Cannon scandal is worth maybe four more ads.

He said he’s mostly received positive feedback from the ads.

“I only got one negative message so far from someone,” he said.

“They weren’t offended by it. They just thought it was tacky.”

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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