29 Dec Rachel Bovier Billboards Return to Pittsburgh!
Pittsburgh’s Poetess is back as part of positive self-expression campaign
Billie Nardozzi made a “name” for himself around Pittsburgh as a well-regarded rock musician and poet long before he ever transitioned into Rachel Ann Bovier, self-proclaimed “Pittsburgh’s Poetess.” Rachel’s name, however, has quickly eclipsed Billie’s in recent years, thanks to her consistent self-funded poetry placed in local newspapers and a continuous string of billboards along Bigelow Boulevard. The billboards, each featuring a portrait of Rachel and her affirming seasonal greetings, soon became an ongoing counter-cultural conversation in the city, turning Rachel into somewhat of an enigmatic local legend. The local buzz and anticipation for each new board built as the series continued – ultimately leading to confusion and disappointment when they abruptly vanished last year.
The reason for the disappearance, as it turns out, was strictly financial. While Rachel continues to possess an endless supply of creativity and goodwill, the ability for a local poet to subsidize messaging through expensive outdoor media is, unfortunately, finite.
That’s when BOOM Creative stepped in. Long-time fans of Ms. Bovier’s idiosyncratic work, we decided to sponsor a special Christmas holiday board featuring Rachel as a kick-off for their “Just Do You.” campaign, celebrating the spirit of individual expression and personal worth throughout the city. A perfect symbol of self-realization and pride, Rachel offers a message of supportive affirmation for all Pittsburghers as the holiday season is upon us.
“The ‘Just Do You. Celebrate Your Self, Pittsburgh’ concept is an idea that occurred to us as a result of being involved with so many public health awareness efforts for the past five years,” says BOOM President Scot Fleming. BOOM handles the creative messaging for several different statewide and county campaigns covering substance misuse prevention, mental health & wellness, anti-stigma, prescription sharing, addiction recovery, among others. “Rachel’s billboards always brought a smile to our faces when we drove past them. When we found out she had been paying for them years and had run out of funding, that’s what got us thinking about this.”
Nyde Handley, BOOM Creative Director sums it up, “In today’s increasingly fragmented society, there are all too many opportunities for people to be made to feel marginalized or “less than” for a multitude of superfluous reasons. For years, Rachel’s poetry and billboards have inspired Pittsburghers with simple, exceedingly positive sentiments that advocate finding yourself simply by being yourself. That important spirit of unique “self” is something that BOOM wants to celebrate.”
BOOM plans to continue the “Just Do You.” campaign with other local individuals and participants across the upcoming months. Rachel Ann Bovier is the subject of an upcoming documentary by Brett Yasko. She self-publishes poetry via local media, poetry readings and speaking engagements, and encourages interaction via the prominent inclusion of her phone number 412-921-3694
Rachel Bovier portrait photography by Heather Mull
Board photos courtesy of Orange Barrel Media