If you drove out of the City of Buffalo on the Kensington Expressway over the past two weeks, chances are you saw an eye-catching billboard with an - ahem - unusual message that shows two tuxedo-clad men, prompting you to draw one of several conclusions:
a) Someone's out to get these guys.
b) This must be a political hit piece, but I have no idea who's being hit.
c) A pro-gay/anti-gay organization or pharmaceutical company must have put up a public service ad.
d) Hey, isn't that developer Bill Huntress? Whoa, he's going to sue the pants off somebody.
If you came up with answer d, you get partial credit. One of the two men in the billboard is, indeed, William L. Huntress, owner and president of Acquest Development. But in this case, he isn't suing anyone.
In the billboard, Huntress, 56, is pictured wearing a tuxedo and boutonniere. He has his left arm wrapped around the shoulders of a similarly dressed younger man with a message below the photo that implies that the two men are a couple and have some, well, sexual performance issues.
"I'm shocked that we didn't get more calls on it," said Rick Dvorak, vice president and general manager for Lamar Outdoor Advertising in Buffalo.
The attention-getting billboard ad, which was up from Sept. 3 until Wednesday, was set against a brilliant blue background.
Below the photo image ran the message: "Don't let erectile dysfunction affect your love life!"
Apparently, the billboard was the outcome of a family bet, Dvorak said. The losers agreed to have their smiling mugs up on the billboard for a week with the embarrassing caption.
"I made sure it was a just-in-fun thing," Dvorak said. "All parties were in agreement."
Dvorak wouldn't say who commissioned the billboard or who is pictured, but it's clearly Huntress standing with his son-in-law, Omar Abu-Sitta. Huntress did not return a call seeking comment about the billboard or the nature of the bet, but despite his reputation as an occasionally hard-nosed developer, he apparently has a healthy sense of humor. Rumor has it that Huntress' son, Michael, won the family wager.
It's rare for Lamar Advertising to put up a billboard along a major road for less than a month, or for this type of space to be purchased for entirely personal reasons. But in this case, it appears that Huntress or one of his family members won a week of billboard space at a foundation auction held in September.
The 14- by 48-foot billboard ad is valued at $3,550, Dvorak said.
While the Lamar executive is used to seeing an occasional marriage proposal billboard and even put one up for a man in need of a kidney transplant in 2005, this one is still a standout, he said.
The person who commissioned the billboard originally contacted Lamar about four months ago about using the space and approved the image several weeks ago, he said. But the man also insisted that the billboard be placed along the Kensington.
It wasn't until last week that a spot came open eastbound on the expressway near the Grider Street exit, Dvorak said. The billboard came down Wednesday and was replaced with a Verizon ad.