5 Restaurant Billboard Advertising Tips

Let’s go on a quick thought experiment: Imagine you’re on a road trip. You’ve been driving on the highway for hours over a static landscape of traffic and concrete. Your stomach is rumbling, but you can’t take your eyes off the road to look up restaurants on your phone. You’ve resigned yourself to grabbing fast food at whatever happens to be at the next rest stop.

Then, you spot a restaurant billboard materializing in front of you like an oasis in the desert. Great food; next exit. Rejoice! Happiness awaits!

It just goes to show how effective a traditional OOH billboard can be when informing travelers of your location and enticing them to come. But not all restaurant billboards are created equal. To that end, let’s look at some factors to consider when advertising the restaurant industry so that your billboard design makes an impact. 

#1 Location

When it comes to how to get a billboard, outdoor advertising can be a lot like real estate (and not just because you’re literally leasing a piece of real estate): Location is king. And while the best locations will also come with a higher price tag, that extra expense is often worth every penny. 

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering locations:

  • Traffic – If a restaurant puts a billboard in a forest, does it make a sound? While billboards can be an effective advertising tool, they only work if people see them. High-traffic locations ensure the highest possible number of viewers.
  • Proximity – There’s a reason that the billboard in the thought experiment didn’t say “Great food in forty miles.” According to a Nielsen survey, 57% of people who saw digital billboards with direction to a business then went to visit that business.1 That’s great news, but the further away the billboard ad is, the less likely you’ll attract customers to your location—especially if they spot a few more enticing billboards along the way. 
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#2 Avoid TMI

You probably put a lot of time into creating your menu, and rightfully so. But that doesn’t mean your billboard needs to detail every ingredient in your Famous Pork and Cider Stew. Most billboards will be seen while people are driving past them. That means they don’t have time to read all about your business. Instead, give them the basics, such as:

  • Type of food you specialize in
  • Where you’re located
  • When you’re open

Anything beyond that is likely to be too much information. People won’t have time to read it, and that much text may very well cause people to ignore your billboard altogether.

#3 Use Images

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, instead of enticing customers with your flowery prose, beguile travelers with a mouth-watering photo. Whether it’s an overflowing mug of beer or a juicy steak, the perfect billboard size and picture is more likely to spur their appetites than a description.

In fact, in one example from Florida, a local restaurant named Benedict’s decision to expand their customer base for their two locations (and a third that had not yet opened) through the use of two image-based billboards.2 Their billboards only had three elements:

  • Their name
  • Their locations (just the towns they were in, not specific addresses)
  • A large image of their eggs benedict

After a year-long campaign, the CEO was quoted as saying, “The response has been overwhelming!” This is just one example of how it’s often smarter to let your food do the talking.

#4 Get Creative

Want to get people to notice your billboards? Show them something they’re not used to seeing. 

There are several ways you can get creative with your billboard design, whether you’re opting for striking visuals or digital technology. 

As an example of how to infuse your advertising with ingenuity, just consider some of the campaigns McDonald’s has used over the years:3

  • Integrated technology through a partnership with WAZE.
  • Created billboards that also worked as sundials to spotlight certain menu items at different times of the day.
  • Put billboards on the Sweden and Norway border showing which country had lower prices.
  • Created billboards in London that people could approach and buy certain McDonald’s items.

While some of these ideas may not work for most restaurants, they show how billboards can be more than static advertisements on the side of a road.

#5 Show Yourself

Sometimes it’s easy to think we have to adhere to a certain set of rules or be overly professional when it comes to advertising. While there’s nothing wrong with professionalism, that approach can feel staid or impersonal. And it’s likely not the vibe you give off at your restaurant, so why should it be the vibe you give off on your billboard?

Finding little ways to let your brand personality and sense of fun show through will endear people to your restaurant before they’ve even been there. Whether that’s through humor, bright colors, or a general warmth of tone, don’t be afraid to let your restaurant—and your outdoor advertising—shine. It may be the key to connecting with your next loyal customer.

Restaurant Billboards from True Impact Media

No matter how many tips we give you, there’s no substitute for expertise. If we’re trying to make a delicious dinner, we’d be sure to ask you for help. But since you’re trying to make the best restaurant billboard possible, we hope you’ll look to us.

At True Impact Media, we’re billboard experts. Our platform makes finding the right location and designing your billboard an easy and intuitive process. And we’re always here to lend our expertise when you need it. So, we hope you’ll come to us. And, when we’re hungry, we’ll be sure to come to you.


  1. Out of Home Advertising Association of America. Digital Billboards Engage Consumers and Drive Action. https://oaaa.org/Portals/0/Digital%20Billboards%20Nielsen%20FINAL.pdf 
  2. Out of Home Advertising Association of America. Benedict’s Restaurant Case Study. https://oaaa.org/Portals/0/Benedict’s%20Restaurant.pdf?ver=2020-03-11-101716-947 
  3. True Impact Media. How McDonald’s Thinks Outside the Box with OOH. https://trueimpactmedia.com/blog/how-mcdonalds-thinks-outside-the-box-with-ooh/ 
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