Who is that Shunn of a gun, anyways?

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2016

They started popping up a year or so ago, sprouting ten times faster than new Dollar Generals stores across the panhandle of Florida. You can’t avoid them any longer, no matter that you might consider them some sort of eye pollution. Think of it like a man-made variety of Kudzu, impossible to get rid of and spreading like a weed.

By now you have probably guessed that I am talking about the billboards that have taken over our roadways near and far advertising for Alexander Shunnarah, a personal injury attorney for the masses. I first noticed them in Florida and was surprised to see the small disclaimer under his name; “not licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.”

In the old days when I was a kid, my brother, sister and I passed the time in a car by counting cows, horses, or any other objects that might be found on the left or right side of the road. Alex, as Shunnarah likes to be called, has more billboards along the roads than there are cattle in the fields these days.

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There was also the game of “Punch Buggy” or “Slug Bug,” when you would punch your opponent, usually my brother, in the arm if you were the first one to see a Volkswagen Beetle. There aren’t many Volkswagen Bugs on the road anymore, and besides kids are too busy playing games on their iPhones to count cows or billboards these days.

Coming back from the beach this weekend, I was reminded each time I saw one of Shunnarah’s billboards that I wanted to research him and do a story on why one person would have so many billboards in a given area. Finally, I stopped in Marianna and took a picture of the 12th billboard I had seen since Panama City.

I got Mary Lou to look up Mr. Shunnarah, and he appears to be a legitimate attorney (no jokes about that being an oxymoron) who has built quite a practice headquartered in Birmingham. He is involved in his community, teaches Bible Classes, and has three young daughters.

That didn’t answer my question about the billboards. It was only when we googled “Alexander Shunnarah Billboards” that we understood the role of the billboards in his practice.

Shunnarah believes that his message is lost in conventional advertising, so he concentrates on billboard saturation and rather corny local television advertising. In some markets, over 40% of all billboards have his name, face and telephone number plastered across the billboard.

Does that strategy work? Well, what are the chances I would be writing an article about any other personal injury attorney based in Birmingham?

The funniest thing about my research is that Mr. Shunnarah’s billboards have now gone viral, including having their own Facebook page. My wife and I laughed for 30 minutes as we reviewed the Facebook postings, often with selfies and some caption using some variation of his name, like “Shunnshine”, or “Shunnday School”.

To date, over 1.5 Million people have viewed the posts on this page, which was created by a 19 year college student who was bored and just wanted to start a fun page about a random subject. There are even movie segments that have been edited to include his billboards.

If you are on Facebook, check out the page appropriately named “Alexander Shunnarah Billboards”. This is some unexpectedly funny stuff and will let you know there are thousands of other people wondering what was up with all those billboards.

Alexander Shunnarah is truly one Shunn of a gun.