GRAND RAPIDS MI
Advertising and design agency Extra Credit Projects (ECP) operates by a simple philosophy ‒ give a little extra. For their clients, that means extra creative energy and extra value for their dollar. For them personally, it means striving to put their talents to use serving their industry and community. ECP is best known in-part for their work in outdoor advertising, where they have created a reputation crafting pro-bono tributes and positive messages of hope urging action in the wake of global and domestic events.
Most recently, ECP’s “extra” factor led to the humbling experience of creating a tribute to an American icon and activist: Muhammad Ali. Hearing the news of his passing late on a Friday night in June, Creative Director Rob Jackson, along with Art Directors Rick Iseppi and Eric Lowe, felt the call to come in Saturday morning to give their trademark extra to honor Ali in the form they know best. The team wrote dozens of headlines and sorted through hundreds of archival photos of Ali to find the perfect concept in just one afternoon, knowing that the quick timing of the message was key to its delivery.
They partnered with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the governing organization for billboard companies across the country, to make the design available to all members. The OAAA made the work available online, and reported that it was downloaded “like crazy.” The artwork showed up everywhere from New York City’s Times Square to Chicago, Atlanta to Baton Rouge, Washington DC to ECP’s home city of Grand Rapids as the nation mourned his passing. It even appeared along the route of Ali’s funeral procession in Louisville late the following week.
Based on sustainability and timeliness, the design posted almost exclusively on digital billboards across the country. Digital outdoor inventory is very energy efficient, and there’s never any vinyl or physical waste that could end up in a landfill. And this particular design aesthetic made extra sense due to its greyscale imagery, which ultimately took even fewer lights ‒ and therefore less energy ‒ to showcase. During the process, the ECP team uncovered an intriguing and unexpected connection to the work: Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr., was a billboard painter.