Spokane apparel company profits after frisky bear billboard

When a little clothing company in Washington put a saucy image on a downtown billboard, the community loved it, even if the owner of the billboard company didn’t.
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A Pacific Northwest brand’s billboard of two bears getting frisky didn’t last long.

About eight hours after it was erected Monday, the billboard company replaced The Great PNW’s design with a more PG-rated (and, frankly, forgettable) logo. But some motorists had already taken notice.

Joel Barbour, owner of the Spokane, Washington-based casual wear brand, said the design of two bears mating was set to appear on a hat in the summer collection. When he was short on time in submitting an ad design, he took a risk and submitted the bear image he already had for the billboard at First Avenue and South Washington Street.

“That’s something very off-brand for us,” Barbour said. “We don’t do things that are funny. They’re mostly very clean and simple. As a designer you always want people to take a second look at stuff and kind of look at it deeper, so this was just one of those things. But it’s also because I have the mind of a 14 year old and think that stuff is funny.”

News stations and local publications sought to find out what happened to the billboard.  They reported that, Lamar, owner of the billboard, said the bear ad was not approved by the general manager and "slipped through the cracks internally by mistake."

And customers couldn’t wait for the hat and immediately demanded T-shirts, which are online now for about $28 and expected to be delivered next week. As of Thursday afternoon, Barbour had sold around 600.

The Great PNW's new shirt "Woodsy"

The Great PNW's latest shirt, the "Woodsy"

“It made me learn a lot about our consumer and our brand and that people are OK with us being more lighthearted,” Barbour said.

“So much of running a business is going with your gut," Barbour said. "You can't take things so serious all the time. I’m glad it paid off, but it was mostly just for fun.”

Want more laughs? Perception Kayaks' new mockumentary has us cracking up.


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