Billboard Campaign for Missing Senator's Son Yields Little; Company Promises to Help Others - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Billboard Campaign for Missing Senator's Son Yields Little; Company Promises to Help Others

You've seen them all over Central Alabama - the bright red, yellow and black billboards with a smiling teenager's face.

For the past week, drivers in Alabama and Georgia have seen the billboards featuring missing 17 year old Ben Stanford and an appeal for help in finding him.

You may wonder how Stanford's family could pay for the ads. It turns out, they didn't have to.

But they did have a connection to the advertising company, and now you might find other missing people on the billboards.

For Stanford's family, hope comes in the form of an eight-second ad on 80 video billboards.

For the last seven days, Lamar Advertising has put the missing 17 year old's face beside the most heavily traveled roads in two states, trying to root out clues for his family.

"We're doing our part," said the company's sales manager, Russ Bullard.  "You know, with regular billboards, you couldn't do this in the past. It would take a week to get a vinyl billboard in. We couldn't compete with other media."

The billboards aren't cheap, costing advertisers thousands to cycle those huge but short acting ads, but Stanford's family isn't paying a dime.

That's because his grandfather - Senator Jim Preuitt - is already a customer with his car dealerships.

We asked the company if his state job or his business had anything to do with the campaign.

"Ahh, who knows," said Bullard. "I got the call from Birmingham. I'm sure it might factor in."

The bad news is that the campaign hasn't turned up Stanford yet. His family is trying to keep their hopes up.

"If he's into any problems, they can be worked out with his mom and his dad and grandmother and paw paw and his aunt Lea and uncle Joe," said Sen. Preuitt.  "We love him very much."

Still, something good is coming from the teenager's disappearance.

This is the first time Lamar Advertising has used its digital billboards for a missing persons campaign. The company says it wont be the last.

Right now, Lamar Advertising doesn't have any written criteria on how it will decide when to run a missing persons billboard.

In addition, the company says it's still investigating how to get Amber Alerts online quickly. The company promises when it finishes those projects, it will make ad slots available on its billboards as soon as possible.

Ben Stanford was last seen two weeks ago in Anniston, but police also found his 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee in Villa Rica, Georgia.

Reporter: Chris Holmes

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