About those Bernie Sanders billboards in Chattanooga, TN


Unless you’ve sworn off the news and social media (and, hey — we wouldn’t blame ya in these times if you’re tempted), you probably saw the Bernie Sanders photo that went viral and turned into countless memes.

Then, over the weekend, Bernie popped up on area billboards. 

If you’re like us, you laughed and then had questions. So we found the answers. 

Who put it there?

Reagan Outdoor Advertising of Chattanooga

Why did they put it there?

General Manager Scott Hibberts said he’d love to say someone paid $1 million to put it there, but instead “we just decided to have a little fun.” 

Company leaders generally keep their fingers on the pulse of trends and put up different campaigns/photos to generate buzz or make people smile. 

Hibberts said the Bernie meme seemed to be one thing that most people could laugh at together, despite other differences. 

Bernie billboard by the numbers 

  • Bernie’s photo is on 29 billboards in the region (13 counties in Southeast Tennessee + Northwest Georgia)
  • As of mid-day Monday, it has played a total of 106,000 times
  • We’ve spotted three so far — one in Hixson, one on Market Street, and one in East Brainerd 

Wait, there’s more

If a residual effect of the Bernie billboard is that Reagan gets more business, that’s great, Hibberts said. But that’s not the goal. 

The company often runs campaigns to benefit the community.

For example, the company recently ran 4,000-5,000 photos of high school seniors from the region who didn’t get an ideal final year because of the pandemic

“The kids really have gotten the raw deal in not getting to have a formal graduation and not getting to do all the things that a senior gets to do. We thought parents would want to see their kids on a billboard. We just try to have fun.” – Scott Hibberts

Students around the region posed with their billboards. You can see that and more of what Reagan shares via its Facebook page

Leaders have also used the billboards to remind people about fun national days, like National Tater Tot Day, which is Feb. 2, just FYI.  

And, the company does a lot of “in memory” billboards — there are currently tributes to Hank Aaron + Larry King

“One of the things we’ve always said in this building is when you’ve got as many billboards as we do in a market — you’ve got a very loud voice. We just try to make the community laugh.”  – Scott Hibberts