Advertising, With a Twist

‘Sign spinners’ may be annoying, but just the fact that you noticed them is the reason they exist.



Sign spinner Zach Taylor has all the right moves on Maitland Boulevard as he tries to get motorists’ attention.

Photo by Tina Russell

Sign spinners. You’ve seen them on street corners and along roads, twirling their arrow-shaped placards. They’re trying to boost drive-in traffic for everything from apartment complexes to furniture liquidations and they’re so annoying you can’t help but notice. And that’s the point.

Dancing banana, Statue of Liberty or, heaven forbid, a creepy clown, are so 10 minutes ago. Sign spinners, a form of capitalist street theater, are the state of the art—active, distracting and provocative, the way low-budget guerrilla marketing was meant to be. Businesses are fighting for attention in an advertising market oversaturated by print, TV, radio, billboards and the Internet; put a guy near a busy intersection with a pointer sign and tell him to twirl it and move around like he’s shoeless on hot asphalt. Now that’ll get people’s attention.

AArrow Advertising, a California company, is widely credited with pioneering sign-spinning as performance art sometime around 2002. (Leave it to the state that gave us Twitter and the Kardashians to come up with something weird enough to distract us from our drive-time focus of texting and putting on makeup).

AArrow, which also has an Orlando branch, boasts a trademarked playbook with more than 100 tricks, and its spinners are drilled weekly. They’re mostly teens, these spinners, getting a base pay of $7 per hour but making $10 to $15 per hour, depending on their repertoire of spin tricks and how much walk-in traffic they generate. It’s not unusual for them to engage in “spinoffs’’ when two or more find themselves on opposing corners. Zach Teal, who spins for Orlando-based Gotcha Directionals, likes to challenge rivals to a game of S-I-G-N (think of the driveway basketball game H-O-R-S-E).

Their spin shifts are called “showings” with good reason: Teal regularly works lines of cars with the “blender-blender’’ and  “helicopter’’ spins, building up to his “Matrix’’ move, in which he bends over backward while tossing the sign like a pizza.

“I’ve had people pull over and watch me for 10 minutes,”    Teal, 17, says. And, just like in the theater, fans have been known to show their appreciation, albeit not with flowers. “One guy gave me a sandwich.”

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

 

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2015

Our annual list featuring 216 of the area’s finest dental professionals.

Dentists Q&As

We selected 4 dentists to weigh in on questions related to dental health.

Guide to Private Schools 2015

Our annual guide to private schools will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2014 Finest Doctors

Two national surveys name the Best and Top Doctors in Orlando, as recommended by their peers.

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2014

More than 75 Central Florida chiropractors make our inaugural list.

Fall Getaways

Fall is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Real Estate's Hot 100

Whether you’re trying to buy or sell real estate, getting the best deal means finding an agent who possesses savvy and know-how and gets results. This list showcases some Central Florida agents who have demonstrated those skills.

Spotlight on Plastic Surgeons 2014

This special advertising section highlights the accomplishments of plastic surgeons, who tell about their commitment to helping people look their best.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Celebrities Who Got Their Start in Orlando

Check out our list of celebrities with Orlando roots.

Celebrities From Orlando

Handmade Home: Pastel Party

Deck out your Easter gathering with the colors of spring.

The 411 on I-Drive 360

10 Things You Should Know About Orlando's Newest Attraction