A guerrilla marketing campaign that left the message, “Live like the mountain is out,” stenciled in chalk and on light-filled boxes around the South Sound, is the work of local civic boosters South Sound Together.
The group, comprised of about 20 businesses, universities, community organizations and others, launched the secret campaign in March to brand the community with a feel-good sentiment.
South Sound Together promotes the region’s image locally and beyond the area. It spends about $300,000 annually on projects.
The group placed stencils on sidewalks from Tacoma to Puyallup.
Briefcase-sized boxes with flashing lights inside and the mountain logo were placed randomly in the community for residents to find, photograph and place again in public settings.
“We want people to celebrate this great place where we work and live,” South Sound Together said in a statement Wednesday. “The mountain was out, and our exuberant South Sound Proud spirit spilled onto the sidewalk in recent days with a bit of chalk wisdom.”
Tacoma artist Benjamin Davis was driving by Frost Park at South Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue last week when he saw a man spray painting something on the sidewalk.
“It was right in the middle of the day,” Davis said. “Is this the Banksy of Tacoma?” (Banksy is an anonymous graffiti artist who has achieved worldwide fame for his guerrilla art.)
Using the hashtag “South Sound Proud” and a website, the campaign caused much speculation on social media.
The website features T-shirts, decals and other items with, “Live like the mountain is out.” The website states they are offered at cost.
“Glaciers and mud, farmlands and factories, hot shops and sweat,” the site heralds in a pro-South Sound essay.
People involved with the project said there is more to come, including unannounced public art events, as the campaign reveals itself through May.
The events are so secret that members of South Sound Together do not know what other groups in the partnership are planning, several people with knowledge of the campaign said.
“We’re not done yet: we’ll be displaying our pride in other fun and artistic ways throughout the South Sound,” Wednesday’s statement from South Sound Together said.
At first angered by the apparent public vandalism, Davis changed his tune when he learned it was chalk.
“What excites me about this is that there’s spray-on chalk,” said Davis, a chalk artist himself. “I’ve got to get some.”