Spotted: Real life “I Am Pied Piper” billboards just like the ones from last Sunday’s “Silicon Valley” in the real Silicon Valley. And the HBO show's fans can’t stop tweeting about it.
That’s exactly the kind of reaction the show’s creator, Mike Judge, best known for "Office Space" and "Beavis and Butt-head," was hoping for when HBO paid for nine billboards along U.S. Highway 101 and parts of the Peninsula through May 3.
Not because he needs the extra publicity — the show, which spoofs tech culture, has been doing great and just got renewed for a third season. Judge is excited about what this kind of original “real life” advertising can do. Judge said he was inspired by an ad agency in Austin that was paid $60,000 to come up with a slogan for the University of Texas.
"They came up with ‘We are Texas’ — $60,000,” he told NBC Bay Area via Twitter. “That's where I got the idea.”
The billboard — just like the one in the show about the fictional start-up “Pied Piper” started by a group of engineer friends — features a girl playing a guitar. In the show, the “I Am Pied Piper” billboard is strategically placed right outside Pied Piper’s arch nemesis Hooli to spite its billionaire CEO Gavin Belsom.
As for the mysterious girl with the guitar who doesn't seem to have a direct connection to the imaginary Pied Piper, Judge says: “I see that all the time in advertising now ... In fact, the day I was describing it to our art department, Apple's home page featured a multiracial girl playing a guitar. As did B of A's.”
Turns out, the girl with the guitar actually exists, and she's also working on a “stealth mode startup.” “That’s me on the billboard!” Angeline Vuong, who works as a digital consultant in Los Angeles, tweeted at NBC Bay Area Monday. Vuong said her friend is an assistant art director on “Silicon Valley” and asked her to take the photo.
HBO's VP of program advertising told The Technology Chronicles the billboards bring "an aspect of the show to life in the real world, and serve as a surprise and delight tactic that spoke directly to the local enthusiastic fan base of the show.”
When asked what he thinks about a De Anza College student’s efforts to put up a giant “Hollywood”-style Silicon Valley sign in San Jose as a "distinguished landmark," Judge, who used to live in Silicon Valley, said it was a good idea. “Yeah they need a landmark up there,” he said.