Northwest News

Two bears, one tree, one busy intersection — it all adds up to pure marketing gold

The Great PNW, a Spokane-based clothing company that sells shirts, hats and other merchandise, put up a billboard in downtown Spokane that showed two cartoon bears having sex beside an evergreen tree. Social media opinion on the bears has gone viral.
The Great PNW, a Spokane-based clothing company that sells shirts, hats and other merchandise, put up a billboard in downtown Spokane that showed two cartoon bears having sex beside an evergreen tree. Social media opinion on the bears has gone viral. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Bears may (poop) in the woods, according to the old saying, and eat from bird feeders in Bellingham, but apparently they mate on billboards in Spokane.

The Great PNW, a Spokane-based clothing company that sells shirts, hats and other merchandise, put up a billboard in downtown Spokane that showed two cartoon bears having sex beside an evergreen tree with nothing else on the advertisement except The Great PNW logo, according to a story in the Spokesman-Review.

(Cue the "Beavis and Butthead" laugh track.)

And it didn't just look like the bears were having sex, according to Joel Barbour, owner of The Great PNW — that's actually what it was meant to be.

“It’s not some, like, vulgar big bear orgy or something going on,” Barbour told the Spokesman-Review. “I think it was very lighthearted, and people get that for the most part.”

The tree may say otherwise.

The billboard didn't stay up long — in fact, it came down inside of 24 hours and was replaced with a more G-rated billboard from The Great PNW without any bears.

Apparently, the bears got a room ... err, a den ... if you will.

Barbour told the Spokesman Review he didn't expect the billboard to stay up long, though even he thought it might last just a little longer.

But the results of its short-lived display were pure marketing GOLD.

“It worked out pretty well," Barbour told the inlander.com in another story about the billboard. "I think everybody understands it’s very lighthearted, and mostly childish."

And more importantly, it was childish enough to bring out the teenager in many of us and go viral on social media:

Even cultural icon William Shatner weighed in on Spokane's cavorting bears.

And of course, the Spokesman-Review, the Inlander and other area media covered the story from every angle, creating even more publicity for The Great PNW.

Barbour told the Inlander the idea for the billboard came from a hat with the same image that The Great PNW is scheduled to release later this month.

And just in case you haven't gotten enough of Spokane's infamous billboard, the bear love will live on, as The Great PNW website is selling a T-shirt with the bears on the front. The "Woodsy," as it's called, is available in six different sizes for $27.99.

No word on whether The Great PNW plans to reproduce the shirt once it sells out, but the bears are probably willing.

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