Exploring Tennessee's Billboards: A Look at the State's Advertising Landscape

Tennessee is a state known for its rich history and diverse culture, but it's also home to some of the most iconic and memorable billboard advertising in the country. From the bright lights of Nashville's Music Row to the neon glow of Memphis' Beale Street, billboards have played an essential role in Tennessee's advertising landscape and economy.

The History of Billboards in Tennessee

The history of billboards in Tennessee is a fascinating one that has evolved over the years. Billboards have become a staple of the advertising landscape, and their evolution has been shaped by the changing times and the needs of the industry.

Early Beginnings of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising began in the early 1900s, where it was still a growing industry. The first billboards were known as "sky signs," which were large structures that stood on rooftops and faced the sky. These signs were designed to catch the attention of people from a distance, and they were often used to advertise products ranging from cigarettes to soap to automobiles.

By the 1920s, billboards had evolved to include electric lights and bright colors, which helped to catch the attention of drivers and passengers as they drove by. These billboards were simple in design, featuring oversized posters that were pasted onto wooden frames along roadsides and highways.

The Golden Age of Billboards

The 1950s marked the "Golden Age" of billboards in Tennessee, where large, eye-catching billboards became a staple of the advertising landscape. These billboards featured bright colors, catchy slogans, and memorable graphics, and they could be found all over the state, from busy interstates to small country roads.

Perhaps the most well-known billboard of this era was the "See Rock City" sign located on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. This iconic billboard featured a red barn with white letters spelling "See Rock City," which became a popular tourist attraction and symbol of the state. The sign is still in use today and has become a beloved part of Tennessee's history.

Modern Developments and Changes

In recent years, the billboard industry has undergone many changes, including the introduction of digital billboards and the increased focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility. Tennessee has been at the forefront of these changes, with companies like Lamar Advertising and Outfront Media leading the charge.

Digital billboards have become increasingly popular in recent years, with their ability to display multiple advertisements and change messages quickly. These billboards are also more environmentally friendly, as they use less paper and ink than traditional billboards. Companies like Lamar Advertising have invested heavily in these new technologies, and they have become a major player in the industry.

Despite these changes, billboards remain an important part of Tennessee's advertising landscape, contributing to the state's economy and tourism industry in significant ways. Billboards continue to evolve and adapt to the changing times, and they remain a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience.

The Role of Billboards in Tennessee's Economy

Billboards have been a staple of the advertising industry for decades, and in Tennessee, they play a crucial role in the state's economy. They provide a powerful advertising platform for local businesses, attract tourists and visitors, and support employment and revenue.

Supporting Local Businesses

For small and local businesses, billboards can be a cost-effective way to attract new customers and build brand awareness. With over 1,000 miles of interstate highways and major thoroughfares, Tennessee is an ideal location for businesses to advertise on billboards. Billboards are often strategically placed in high-traffic areas, offering maximum exposure at a comparatively low cost.

Whether it's a small mom-and-pop shop or a regional chain, billboards can help businesses reach their target audience and drive sales. In fact, studies have shown that billboard advertising can increase sales by up to 30%.

Attracting Tourists and Visitors

Tennessee is known for its tourism industry, and billboards can be a powerful tool for attracting visitors and promoting popular attractions. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Music City, billboards are often used to promote Tennessee's many tourist destinations and events.

Billboards can also help visitors navigate their way around the state, providing valuable information about upcoming events, restaurants, and other amenities. They can even provide safety information, such as alerts about road closures or severe weather warnings.

Impact on Employment and Revenue

The billboard industry contributes significantly to Tennessee's economy, providing jobs and generating revenue for communities across the state. According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the outdoor advertising industry in Tennessee employs over 2,400 people and generates over $20 million in tax revenue.

Moreover, the billboard industry indirectly supports other industries, such as printing, construction, and transportation. This creates a ripple effect that benefits the entire state economy.

In conclusion, billboards are a vital part of Tennessee's economy. They support local businesses, attract tourists and visitors, and create jobs and revenue for communities across the state. As technology continues to evolve, billboards will remain a powerful advertising tool, helping businesses and communities thrive.

Iconic and Memorable Tennessee Billboards

Over the years, Tennessee has been home to some of the most memorable and iconic billboards in the country. From landmark structures to unconventional designs, these billboards have been an essential part of the state's culture and advertising landscape.

Let's take a closer look at some of the most famous and creative billboards that have graced the highways and byways of Tennessee.

Famous Landmark Billboards

One of the most well-known landmark billboards in Tennessee is the aforementioned "See Rock City" sign located on Lookout Mountain. This iconic billboard has been featured in films, TV shows, and even inspired a song by Roy Orbison.

But did you know that the "See Rock City" campaign was actually started by a man named Garnet Carter in the 1930s? Carter and his wife created a miniature golf course on Lookout Mountain and wanted a way to draw more visitors to the attraction. The "See Rock City" campaign was born and eventually became one of the most recognizable billboards in the world.

Other well-known landmark billboards in Tennessee include the giant guitar located outside the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville and the towering Piggly Wiggly pig overlooking Columbia. These billboards have become beloved symbols of their respective cities and are often featured in tourist brochures and postcards.

Creative and Unconventional Designs

As the advertising industry has evolved, so too have the designs of billboards. From quirky pop culture references to interactive installations, billboards have become increasingly creative and unconventional.

One of the most creative billboard campaigns in recent years was the "Trout Fishing in America" campaign by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These billboards featured a series of pun-filled messages, like "I caught a fish THIS BIG and a parking ticket THIS SMALL." The campaign was a huge success and helped to promote fishing as a fun and accessible activity for all ages.

Another unconventional billboard that caught the attention of Tennesseans was the "Gatlinburg Traffic Report" billboard. This billboard, located on a busy highway near Gatlinburg, featured a live video feed of the traffic conditions in the area. The billboard became a popular source of information for locals and tourists alike.

Controversial and Thought-Provoking Messages

Billboards have always had the power to provoke emotions and spark conversation, and Tennessee billboards are no exception. From political messages to controversial advertisements, billboards have been used to start important discussions and draw attention to important issues.

One example is the controversial "Thou Shalt Not Kill" billboard located in Memphis, which sparked heated debate over the death penalty. The billboard featured an image of Jesus Christ and the words "Thou Shalt Not Kill" in bold letters. Supporters of the billboard argued that it was a powerful statement against the death penalty, while opponents claimed that it was disrespectful to the victims of violent crimes.

Another thought-provoking billboard campaign was the "Tennessee is Not for Hate" campaign, which was launched in response to the "Religious Freedom" bill that was being considered by the state legislature. The bill was widely criticized for allowing discrimination against LGBT individuals. The "Tennessee is Not for Hate" billboards featured messages of love and acceptance, and helped to raise awareness about the need for equality and tolerance in the state.

These are just a few examples of the many iconic, creative, and controversial billboards that have made an impact in Tennessee over the years. Whether you're a local or a visitor, it's hard to drive through the state without seeing at least one billboard that catches your eye and leaves a lasting impression.

The Future of Billboards in Tennessee

The future of billboards in Tennessee is an exciting one, with new technological innovations, environmental considerations, and potential regulations changing the industry in significant ways. In this article, we will explore these changes and their impact on the industry.

Technological Innovations and Digital Billboards

One of the most significant changes in the billboard industry has been the introduction of digital billboards. These billboards offer increased flexibility and dynamic messaging capabilities, allowing advertisers to change messages quickly and tailor them to specific audiences. This has revolutionized the industry, as advertisers can now create more targeted and engaging campaigns that resonate with their audiences.

But digital billboards are just the beginning of the technological innovations that are changing the industry. Augmented reality and virtual reality are also poised to change the way we interact with billboards in the future. Imagine being able to use your smartphone to interact with a billboard, or even stepping into a virtual reality experience that takes you on a journey through a brand's story. These innovations will make billboards more interactive and engaging than ever before.

Environmental Considerations and Sustainability

As concerns over the environment and sustainability grow, billboards are becoming increasingly conscious of their impact on the environment. Companies like Lamar Advertising have launched sustainability initiatives, including recycling programs and investments in renewable energy sources. By reducing their carbon footprint, these companies are not only doing their part to protect the environment, but they are also improving their brand image and reputation.

Other companies are exploring ways to make billboards more environmentally friendly, such as using solar power to reduce energy costs. By using renewable energy sources, these companies are not only reducing their impact on the environment, but they are also saving money in the long run.

Potential Regulations and Legislation

As the billboard industry continues to evolve, so too do potential regulations and legislation. Issues such as billboard size, placement, and content are constantly under review by lawmakers and regulatory bodies. While some regulations can limit the effectiveness of billboards, they can also help ensure that billboards are used in responsible and effective ways that benefit both advertisers and communities.

For example, regulations that limit the size and placement of billboards can help prevent visual clutter and preserve the natural beauty of the landscape. Regulations that require advertisers to obtain permits and follow certain content guidelines can also help prevent offensive or misleading advertisements from being displayed.

In conclusion, the future of billboards in Tennessee is a bright one, with technological innovations, environmental considerations, and potential regulations all working together to create a more effective and responsible industry. As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more exciting changes that will keep billboards relevant and engaging for years to come.

Exploring Tennessee's Billboard Hotspots

If you're looking to experience some of Tennessee's most iconic and memorable billboards, there are a few hotspots that you won't want to miss.

Nashville's Music Row and Downtown District

Nashville's Music Row and Downtown District are home to some of the most eye-catching and creative billboards in the state. From the giant guitar outside the Hard Rock Cafe to the interactive installations at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville's billboards offer a unique and memorable glimpse into the city's culture and history.

As you walk down the streets of Nashville, you'll notice that the billboards not only advertise products and services, but they also showcase the city's vibrant music scene. Many billboards feature upcoming concerts and shows, giving visitors a chance to plan their itinerary and experience Nashville's live music in person.

In addition to the music-themed billboards, Nashville is also home to some of the most creative and innovative advertisements in the country. You'll see billboards that use optical illusions, 3D graphics, and even augmented reality to capture the attention of passersby.

Memphis' Beale Street and Graceland Area

Memphis Beale Street and Graceland area are also known for their iconic billboards, with the "Elvis Lives" sign located on the side of the Guest House at Graceland being a standout example.

Other memorable billboards in Memphis include the "Smoke and Mirrors" sign located outside the Center for Southern Folklore and the "Sawyer Brown's House of Hair" sign. These billboards not only advertise products and services, but they also showcase the city's rich history and culture.

Memphis is also home to some of the most unique and unusual billboards in the state. For example, the "Peabody Ducks" sign located outside the Peabody Hotel features a group of live ducks that march through the lobby twice a day. The sign has become a beloved symbol of Memphis and a must-see attraction for visitors.

Chattanooga's Riverfront and Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga's Riverfront and Lookout Mountain areas are home to some of the most famous and historic billboards in the state, including the "See Rock City" sign and the "Rock City Birdhouse" sign.

These billboards have been drawing tourists to Chattanooga for decades and are an essential part of the city's cultural and advertising landscape. The "See Rock City" sign, in particular, has become a symbol of the city and a must-see attraction for visitors. The sign features a red barn roof with the words "See Rock City" painted in white letters, along with a birdhouse that has become an iconic symbol of the city.

In addition to the historic billboards, Chattanooga is also home to some of the most innovative and creative advertisements in the state. You'll see billboards that use LED lights, motion sensors, and other high-tech features to capture the attention of passersby.

Overall, Tennessee's billboard hotspots offer a unique and memorable way to experience the state's culture, history, and advertising landscape. Whether you're a music lover, a history buff, or just looking for something fun to do, these hotspots are sure to leave a lasting impression.


From the early days of oversized posters to the current digital revolution, billboards have played a key role in Tennessee's advertising landscape and economy.

Whether it's supporting local businesses, attracting tourists and visitors, or generating employment and revenue, billboards are an essential part of Tennessee's culture and advertising history.

Billboards in Tennessee


  • State in US
  • 6,770,010
  • Population
  • Area
  • 41,237
  • Square Miles
  • Population Density
  • 164.2
  • People per square mile


  • Age
  • 38.9
  • Median age
  • Sex
  • 51.22%
  • Female
  • 48.78%
  • Male
  • Race
  • 16.6%
  • Black
  • 5.51%
  • Hispanic
  • 1.75%
  • Asian
  • 73.63%
  • White


  • Income
  • $29,284
  • Per capita income
  • Poverty
  • 15.31
  • Persons below poverty line
  • Transportation to work
  • 25.41
  • Mean travel time to work


  • Households
  • 2,603,140
  • Number of households
  • People
  • 2.5
  • Persons per household
  • Marital status
  • 50.69
  • Percent Married
  • Fertility
  • 5.3%
  • Women 15-50 who gave birth during past year


  • Units & Occupancy
  • 2,992,412
  • Number of housing units
  • Value
  • $177,500
  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units
  • Owernship of occupied units
  • 66.23
  • Owner occupied
  • Geographical mobility
  • 14.74
  • Moved since previous year

Tennessee at a glance

There are at least 14,958 billboards in the Tennessee area. Check out the breakdown from our inventory!



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