Some things can easily be nicked, like a phone left on the restaurant table or a jacket hanging off the back of a chair.
Other thefts require a little more planning, which is what makes the disappearance of an 18-metre long‚ four-and-a-half-metre high vinyl billboard such a mystery.
The billboard was advertising the Johannesburg Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, and was last seen earlier this month on the R512 to Lanseria Airport, a week or two after it was erected.
Now marketing experts are trying to figure out who is behind what they have called a “professional” and “organised” theft.
The first thing that comes to mind is that it is part of a publicity stunt (disappearing rhinos, disappearing billboard), but as Times LIVE reports, its owner‚ the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve‚ is adamant that’s not the case:
The billboard is made of high-quality plastic to withstand the elements‚ said Asheen Dayal‚ group marketing manager for Bothongo‚ which owns the reserve.
The highest point of the billboard was six metres from the ground‚ meaning removing the vinyl would require extremely large ladders or cranes and about five to six people to carry its weight.
Dayal said he discovered the billboard was gone when he took a group of executives to see it.
“WTF could not describe the mood‚” said Dayal.
A billboard that backed on to the nature reserve was also stolen‚ said media strategist Margaret Ashwin‚ who helped the reserve identify the billboard spot.
The Rhino and Lion Nature reserve tweeted out this image yesterday requesting assistance:
Yup, it just vanished – and not like that faux ‘invisible’ trick video that everyone seems to be sharing so giddily.
They then followed up their tweet with this:
I guess you have to doff your cap from time to time and say well played, you thieving bastards.
Sometimes billboards are removed in error, which is known as deflighting, but that was not the case here:
Marketing strategist Sarah Britten said: “Sometimes billboards are de-flighted in error and this was an obvious assumption to make. When the media owner said this was not the case‚ we started wondering [what happened].”
…The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve has offered a reward in the form of a weekend stay at the facility to anyone with information about what happened.
Asked if they “stole” their own billboard and offered a reward as a marketing ploy‚ Dayal said‚ “I can assure you we have not done so”.
At this stage, you have to believe them, because it would be a PR nightmare from here on out if they had orchestrated the ‘theft’ as a stunt.
I’m going to assume you stole a traffic cone or two whilst drunk as a teenager (you can stop stealing them now – no, really), but here’s Ashwin, the media strategist we heard from earlier, with why this is so different:
Ashwin said: “In 40 years of work‚ I have never had a billboard [this big] stolen. It defies logic. They stole a vinyl canvas that is 4.5 metres high and 18 metres wide. It is very heavy. It was organised. People taking it down need safety equipment. They would usually wear harnesses.”
She said the theft was “not just a drive-by decision by a drunken stag party”.
If it was then I guess that’s a decent effort, but go ahead and return the thing before this gets messy.
Anyone with information can pop past the reserve’s Facebook page and drop them a message.
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