MGT 3830: Signs of Opportunity Paper
Professor Dan Marin
Lamar Advertising Company: Evolution of strategy
The Lamar Advertising Company went from being as a small town, sideline poster business for Charles Lamar Sr. to become one of the most prominent billboard businesses in the U.S. The company’s growth was characterized by a continuous aggressive acquisition approach that was not without obstacles in the chase of success. Leadership at the company could be described as focused on new opportunities and the refusal to settle. There is no doubt Lamar Advertising faced many difficulties in its sustained growth strategy, but putting together optimism, adaptation to the market circumstances and constant evolution of the corporate strategy they were able to recognize business opportunities that boosted its growth and made it a leading provider of outdoor advertising.
It was just a matter of “head and tails” that eventually changed the life of Charles Wilbur Lamar, a banker from Valdosta, Georgia. The loss of a coin toss led him to acquire the Pensacola Advertising Company, that at the time it was perceived to be an unprofitable deal out of the coin flip, which he renamed Lamar Outdoor Advertising Company. Mr. Lamar considered himself a banker and had a solid reputation in that field; as a result, his duties at the National Bank prevented a direct commitment to the company. Lamar didn’t really change much of the strategy that MR. Coe had already set in place. His main focus was his career, but after he lost his position as bank president, which turned out to be beneficial to the Lamar Advertising Company, Mr. Lamar increased his interest in the poster company. He took over as the head manager and the company was later promoted to Class AA, meaning outstanding service was offered. This seemed to have occurred at the right time because Mr. Lamar was later to become the founder of one of the biggest and very profitable advertising companies. The poster business was a relatively new industry, but with the yellow pine boom the outdoor advertising industry was on the rise. Mr. Lamar saw this as an opportunity to expand his poster business to meet the need of growing local businesses. In 1910, as Pensacola’s economy largely depended on the international trade of the yellow pine, prosperity lost ground when the yellow pine boom came to a decline, causing a severe slowdown in the local growth and bank´s failures, including the American National Bank. The need for outdoor advertising was declining but influenced by the events of the WWI, Mr. Lamar made a strategic decision to support patriotism by the use of billboards, which not only turned to many new local businesses but it also gained trustworthiness for his company. Many of the new clients were optimistic about the South and believed the area would be very beneficial in the various opportunities that it offered. The south was experiencing a growing popularity for automobiles. As cars began to be mass-produced, more drivers took the road and interstate highways were build in the South. Mr. Lamar saw this as an opportunity for local businesses in the area to effectively advertise their products and services. He took advantage of these social innovations and combined them with the decision to expand his outdoor advertising business by building more highway billboards. This strategy was just the beginning of a constant search of business opportunities based on the commitment to satisfy the advertising needs of local businesses, a corporate strategy that supported its impressive growth. Charles’s bad luck turned out to be a fortune in disguise and even though he was still in the banking industry he was the mastermind of the expanding outdoors advertising industry.
The plans of expansion that helped overcome the decline of the yellow pine were now becoming an issue for the company. L.V. Lamar and Charles Lamar Jr. decided to follow his...