Fathers and sons often have interesting relationships. Pranks are classic father-son bonding rituals and the history and legacy of pranking runs deep. This one takes cake.
Of the six million cars sold in the U.S. annually, you’ve probably seen or even been influenced to purchase a car after seeing it on a billboard while driving. Even in the digital age, marketing surveys show that up to 35% of people have discovered a business because of a physical sign such as a billboard. They’re ubiquitous advertisements that we don’t give enough credit because we like to pretend we don’t notice them. But, we do. And this past week, one lucky birthday boy got a birthday prank from his sons that he had no choice but to notice.
61-year-old Chris Ferry was about to have a birthday. Ever since his sons Michael (28) and Christopher (30) were young boys they have pranked their father on his birthday. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but they always did it. This year, they decided to really go for it. They purchased billboard ad space on the New Jersey Turnpike. For $2,000, the boys printed their father’s face next to the text WISH MY DAD A HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Beneath that, it says “Love, Your Sons” then displays his full phone number. His actual phone number.
They didn’t expect much, but the joke swiftly went viral and their father has since received an estimated 20,000 phone calls and innumerable texts from all over the world.
“He’s actually handled it really well, but last night he was a bit overwhelmed. He deleted about 3,000 texts, which took him about an hour and a half to do, and then got about 2,500 within 15 minutes when more news stories aired across the country,” said Michael Ferry.
It’s all in love and good fun, though. Both sons reported struggling with substance abuse issues and addiction that their father helped them through. More than 350 million people worldwide experience some form of depression and it often couples with addiction. It wasn’t easy on their father to see his sons experience that, but he supported them and now the boys run a substance abuse clinic in Florida. Which, coincidentally, is where the idea to buy the billboard came from in the first place when they were going to look at ad space for their clinic.
“(My dad) drove immediately to the sign and took a picture with it,” said Christopher Ferry.
The ad is set to run until April 6th and Ferry has had to stop answering calls and texts. In fact, along with his birthday prank, he’ll definitely be getting a new phone and number thanks to his two loving, mischievous sons.