Now you see it, now you don't.
A billboard featuring USC's quarterback, Matt Barkley, was recently put up in Westwood, right where UCLA's campus is. The billboard said, “We play to finish,” with the “LA” in a different color than the rest of the words.
So, the billboard was reported in the LA Times, and the next day, it was obscured. It turns out the owners of the billboard, Regency Outdoor Advertising, are Trojan alums and big time donors.
Craig Kelley, the associate athletic director for marketing at USC, said:
"You have certain locations you can choose that are favorable and have high visibility, and we chose the ones that would work best for us at the time based on what was available. Anywhere we put a board, if it's not here in downtown Los Angeles, people look at it as their territory. It's a positive.… That's really what that board is about: Finishing what you start. That crosses all platforms and all schools."
UCLA/USC is easily the most heated rivalry in Los Angeles, but in recent years, the Bruins haven't put up much of a fight. USC is clearly the best team in LA, if not the entire country, so there's no need for them to rub it in UCLA's face. In fact, it's really a waste of time and money. But these things happen all the time when two teams are in the same city.
It seems odd that the people who put this billboard up, felt so bad afterward that they covered it up after being debuted for only a week. Either they don't have faith in USC, or were worried about losing their business in Westwood, which, let's be honest, is a far wealthier area than USC's.
However, it may have been a good business move after all. Did you know about Regency Outdoor Advertising before this? Probably not. But now, if you ever need a billboard, that's likely the only company name that will pop up in your mind.
While some may see this as a classless move, others may see it as healthy competition. And while it may seem like some USC donors are backpedaling, it was actually the smartest thing they could have done for their business by getting their name out there.
As the saying goes in LA, any publicity is good publicity.