Meet the 22-year-old behind the posts on Chicago’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Building – NBC Chicago
For more than two decades, Chicago’s Blue Cross Blue Shield building has used the lights from its building to spell out messages on what it calls the city’s “largest billboard.”
It all started with electrician Chris Gillott the day Walter Payton died.
Then, in November 1999, the building used its large windows for the first time to create a tribute message: the number 34.
Since then, the building has been at the center of several major moments in the city’s history, spelling out messages of awareness, sports victories and more. A legacy that has continued in the years since Gillott’s death.
But if you’ve ever wondered who’s behind the messages that currently light up the Chicago skyline, you’re not alone.
Turns out it’s 22-year-old Ashley Bullock who’s in charge of social media for the building.
“It’s something unique about our business that you can come right out of school and suddenly be in charge of Chicago’s largest billboard,” said John Simley, director of communications for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
Bullock said that while she receives many requests for the building, including proposals and tributes, there are certain restrictions on what can go on the building.
“As great as it is to light the building for these important occasions in people’s lives, we have guidelines,” she said.
The building can be lit for holidays, civic events, community pride, and health and wellness messages.
Also, the message should be about seven letters long and fit within the three lines of the building. Each letter, Bullock said, is about five stories tall and six windows wide.
“As long as we come up with a message that represents said occasion and we can find a message that matches seven letters, we can post it on the building,” Bullock said.
The building has 50 windows through it and incorporates columns which it uses to bring color to certain messages.
“Everyone has the illusion that our messages are in color but in reality the letter is always white, it’s just the building on which we change the colors,” said Roy Swanson, the building’s electrical service provider.
Once a message is solidified, Bullock brings in a group of people who help roll the blinds and turn on the lights where needed to create the display.
“I feel a tremendous sense of pride,” Bullock said. “I think it’s great, of course, to light up the building for the holidays and for the things that really make Chicago a community – things that we can all relate to and look to this building for a sense of community – but I also love lighting up this building for health initiatives. There’s nothing better than, you know, hearing someone next to you in the restaurant say, ” I watched this because I saw it on the Blue Cross Blue Shield building and it’s so great to know that we are raising awareness and people are getting an education from our building as well.”