Hundreds of commuters pass through the intersection at Warman Road and Primrose Drive on any given day in Saskatoon.
It’s what makes the stretch so attractive for billboard advertising, and there’s one that seems to be attracting a lot of online attention.
Stealth Media is responsible for the billboard which highlights a hidden message that read, “Epstein didn’t kill himself.”
It’s a reference to a number of memes about Jeffrey Epstein being found unresponsive in a New York jail cell last year and the mystery that surrounds his death.
An autopsy determined the money manager hung himself but several people including Epstein’s brother and lawyer question whether that was the case considering guards didn’t check on him regularly as required and two cameras outside of his cell malfunctioned.
Stealth’s image of the billboard before it was erected gained momentum on the social media site Imgur, becoming one of the sites most used memes last year.
“It’s a joke. It’s meant to be funny. It may not have landed with some people, but that’s OK. It was quite a measured effort because we figure that about 30 to 40 per cent of people would understand it and know what we’re trying to do,” the company’s marketing president Ryan Yedersberger said.
However, it didn’t garner attention on other social media platforms like Twitter.
A University of Saskatchewan marketing professor said it might not have an effect on the local audience.
“If it was in New York City, I would see more relevance and more closure. The fact it’s in Saskatoon which is even more removed from context and more removed from the marketplace makes it more perplexing,” professor David Williams said.
Stealth said it was an attempt to try and take a meme off of a screen and use it in an ad campaign in an attempt to get people talking.
“This was largely an experiment and it wasn’t meant to be offensive in any way. It was purely to play on the controversy. Our company name is Stealth and we wanted to do something different that got a lot of attention,” Yedersberger said.
The billboard went up around Jan. 3 and was taken down on Jan. 31.
When asked about whether a negative response was the reason it was taken down, Yedersberger said no and that it stayed up longer than the company originally planned.