‘Four days a week, I make a 62-mile round trip journey from my sleepy little village in North Wales to a small market town in Mid Wales for work…
The views on my commute are pretty special. I roll along the edge of the Cambrian Coast, through little beach towns, before heading over the Tal y Llyn pass and along the winding roads leading to Machynlleth.
At the half-way point in my daily trip, I pass by a small filling station sitting just outside the small town of Dolgellau. Around a year ago, a Starbucks opened in a unit next door and the excitement was palpable.
To help you understand just how rural my area is, the new Starbucks is just the third in North Wales. The nearest outlet to this is 53 miles away, or a 90-minute drive. You have to be pretty desperate for coffee to make this trip. While the shop was being fitted, I noticed a small billboard had been installed at the side of the road.
A lonely billboard
For the first few months of its life, the billboard was empty. Each day, I drove towards it hoping to see menus for local restaurants, discount offers for Huw Gray (our local builder’s merchant) and, if it wouldn’t be too ironic, new drinks available at the Starbucks next door. As the days passed and there was nothing on it, I began to lose hope.
And then, one day, it happened. We had out very first roadside advertisement! I spotted it from a distance and was excited to get closer and read what it said…
I’m Not Lovin’ It…
After months of anticipation, the first poster proudly displayed on my billboard was for McDonald’s. I drove past, feeling slightly bemused by this colourful advert extolling the virtues of the all-new ‘Mac Junior’. I don’t pretend to know what that is, and I have a very good excuse:.
We don’t have a McDonald’s.
In fact, not only do we not have a McDonald’s near the sign; we don’t have a McDonald’s within 35 miles. It would take you a full hour to get to our closest Maccies, which is based in Aberystwyth. If you were passing the billboard heading North, you would have to travel 70 minutes or 44 miles to reach the closest one, in Caernarfon.
I don’t know about you, but I have *never* been that desperate to try a new McDonald’s menu item that I would be willing to take 2 hours out of my day to get one. And even if I did want one that badly – who the Hell has time for that journey? Just how good *is* this new Mac Junior that advertisers honestly believe the people of North Wales would literally drive across an entire region of the UK ? How pissed would you be if you got there and they’d run out? Or you didn’t like it?
To be honest, I don’t eat at McDonald’s anyway, so this isn’t really an issue for me. But it does seem particularly cruel to advertise this big, juicy looking burger when there’s no hope in Hell that anyone on this stretch of road can get one. I’m not sure how much of a good excuse it is to be 2 hours late for work because you were peckish, or 120 minutes late in picking your kids up from school for the same reason.
It’s kind of odd that I’ve become fixated on studying the billboard every day, but it’s become the high point of my journey (I drive for an hour each way, so I’m distracted by anything). We don’t have a Burger King in 100 miles of Dolgellau, so maybe they’ll be next…
I will keep you updated, though. You’re welcome.