Digital Sigh-nage


Back to CNN smAnd now…back to CNN..

For the record, 57 minutes of CNN and three minutes of amateur slides with an emergency phone number in the wrong aspect ratio is not digital signage. – Enlightened Rogue

I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with recurring visions of an exploding TV set with the caption “You are watching M.I.T.V… and now…back to CNN.” That was a bumper I created in 2005. For ten years I created content for a medical imaging company that was at first, Bristol Myers Squibb and then morphed into Lantheus Medical Imaging. I created the content, but I didn’t program it, and that’s where the long, slow descent into employee torture began.

It started off with good intentions, but actually the digital signage project was a budget dump to make it look like we were being creative to the mother ship in New Jersey. The CEO casually mentioned CNN in the MITV (medical imaging television) introduction video and it’s still probably stuck on CNN today.

They put large TV screens on every floor in every building on a 200 acre campus. There was no escape. When the content started to dry up, which was out of my control, the death threats started rolling in. They put suggestion boxes under each screen with slips of paper and a chained down pen. You should have been in the room when they started reading those anonymous missives off. There were gasps and “Oh my Gods” to beat the band.

I remember at one point, having lunch in the cafeteria and watching three pieces I had done play back to back, over and over, an IT Minute, an on site driving safety video and the exploding TV with a cue back to CNN but no CNN. Just those three pieces, with volume. Loud. Ever looping. I was sitting there feeling my face getting red, when I looked up to see a group of very unhappy employees surrounding my table. If looks could kill. They all said in unison, BOB!!!

They didn’t know I had no control over the programming. What was produced and received very well at first was now a blight and reason to use foul language on those suggestion slips. That felt terrible. It was futile though, the person who had control was an ex code monkey that was way out of her element. A control freak to boot. People started shutting them off on their own and warning signs had to be placed: “Do Not Shut Off.”  So much for creativity.

What you’ve just read is the exact story I tell any client that’s considering moving to digital signage and wanting me to spearhead the effort. You better think long and hard about strategy and commitment before you leap. I have three companies now that are very serious about moving forward. One just purchased forty, forty inch screens and think they’re going to play themselves. No clue. I’m wondering who signed the purchase order and why they’re still working there.

Now, I did this type of work for more than ten years and I can tell you right here and now, the pitfalls are legion. There are so many critically important things to consider but I’m not going to put them here. You have to pay me for that. Not as much as the poor soul who purchased those forty screens though.

If you are considering digital signage, give me a call or buy a digital loop of a goldfish tank and soothe your employees into productivity. Better than a blank screen, or worse, the stock market tanking, riots, ISIS and natural disasters, courtesy of CNN, to take back to your desk with you, you betcha.


If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to me here.

Bob O’Hearn

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 9.32.25 AM


Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.