Back in September–when I was really New To Seattle–I wrote about the billboard pictured to the right. To me it was a little cheesy that the Foster School of Business, the famous, well-regarded B-school at the famous, well-regarded University of Washington two miles away, was promoting itself in the manner of Seattle-area strip clubs and fast-food restaurants.
I did allow that the sign’s position was clever–right where motorists would have to stop on Nickerson St. on the back side of Queen Anne Hill waiting for the oft-open Fremont Bridge. But I opined it was unlikely that such a long glance would trigger an imaginary car conversation like this:
Driver: Damn bridge! We’re going to be late!
Passenger: Hey, look at that billboard! Foster! Your ticket outta that sweatshop warehouse job with Amazon!
Driver: Yeah! Foster! Move over, Bezos!
Now, except for any of you who post comments, send private email or accost me on streets or soccer fields, I have no idea who reads this blog or whether it influences anything. However, this weekend I happened to pass by the Fremont Bridge. The Foster sign is gone! And its replacement mentions–Amazon!
You can see it to the right. It’s actually an ad promoting Washington Federal Savings, the tiny, prudent Seattle-based savings-and-loan that didn’t go bust funding bad mortgages like, in 2008, giant, imprudent Washington Mutual. The billboard says that if you shift your checking account to WashFed, you’ll get a free Amazon Kindle e-reader. (Of course, there are a few other strings attached.)
It’s almost like someone saw my fall post and thought, “Bezos isn’t moving over for anyone!”
Or maybe not.
In any event, the Amazon name in bold face–it’s really more prominent than that of Wash Fed–is in stark contract to the way the Internet giant now tries to minimize public knowledge of its presence in Seattle. There is no corporate signage, for example, on the buildings of its new corporate complex just three miles southeast in the South Lake Union area.
For those cooling their heels at the Fremont Bridge, one thing hasn’t changed. That’s the little sign to the right of the big sign. “COLD BEER HERE,” it reads, with a finger pointing toward the entrance to a bar.
I’m sure the notion of getting likkered up while making important financial decisions and drooling on a Kindle is just the message WashFed and Amazon want to send. As I wrote in September, the overall impact strikes me as ” more high brew than high brow.”
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