Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

Taking It To The Streets


Besides blurriness, what you see there is the latest advertising technique hitting the streets of the St. Louis metro area.

In this photo, a “kid”(which I’m using to refer to anyone younger than my ripe old age of 29) is dressed in a pizza costume holding a Pizza World sign, earphones in ears, dancing around wildly on the side of the street.

The first time I saw this happening was several months ago. I drove by a man in a statue of liberty costume animatedly dancing on the side of the road outside of a strip mall. At the time I thought Liberty Tax was crazy, and there was no way they were going to get any traffic from that nonsense.

Then I saw a kid standing outside of Little Caesar’s. Hot N’ Ready read the sign that he was holding while he also rocked out to whatever he was listening to on his headphones, and I thought, these people are crazy, but I honked and waved because – why not?

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing for furniture and was headed to Weekends Only. Across the street is a somewhat run-down looking building with a not-so-catchy sign out front for Home Decor Liquidators. For a long time I wasn’t sure it was even open and didn’t care to drive into the lot to check. But as I was driving to Weekends Only, there was a guy standing by the street in front of their building dancing around with their sign in hand. Because I now knew that they were in fact open, I ended up checking them out as well.

Then just a week or two ago I saw 2 kids standing on opposite sides of the street with these huge, awkwardly shaped signs for T-Mobile. No costumes and instead of dancing with the signs they were flipping them around in all types of crazy ways, but that was enough to get my attention to find out what they were doing and what was on their sign.

Today when I saw this kid with the Pizza World sign, I actually turned around! Albeit not to get a piece of pizza, but because I wanted to get a picture to share this craze that I’ve been seeing everywhere. Although I was starving and if I hadn’t known I already had free pizza waiting for me back at my office, I very well might have grabbed a slice of pizza and soda for $3 and probably taken a picture with the kid also. Hello social media!

So does it actually bring them business? I don’t know the answer to that. But here I am, recalling the names of 5 businesses that have caught my attention with this type of advertising after seeing them out on the street just one time. And that’s more than I can say for a majority of the commercials I see on t.v., hear on the radio or that pop up when I’m browsing the internet.

Has anybody else noticed an increase in this advertising trend or is St. Louis just crazy?

About JHerzog

Jessica doesn’t know how to cook and survives pretty much on macaroni and cheese and pizza, so naturally, loves to eat out at restaurants. However, one day when she is married and has a family to cook for, she would love to take cooking classes and learn awesome skills like the chefs on Iron Chef America.

  • Jessica,

    I just had a conversation with the Spanish Cove asset team. They want a guy/gal like this out in front of the property on the weekends. I am very much on the fence but we are going to give it a shot. I’ll make sure we get some video/pics for the archives.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up – really appreciate your observations.


    • I’m kind of thinking it’s a good idea. Let’s jump on the trend while it’s hot. As I was typing this I was thinking about how a year or so ago, the Waterfords had someone stand out by the street in an Elvis costume for a weekend and from their perspective it really helped increase their traffic. Should we put out a sign spinner Craiglist ad?

      • #gameon – approved. #letsroll

  • I haven’t seen many sign spinners in SLC, but in the Vegas area there are a ton. For a good 6 months or so a friend of mine was a sign spinner for a Spa down there. He said he would look up videos on YouTube and practice different twirling tricks at home so he didn’t embarrass himself in front all the people driving through this busy intersection in Henderson where he stood. The people taking reservations at the spa would ask customers where they heard about their business, and when my friend wasn’t being cited as a traffic source by customers then the manager would pressure him to try harder with the threat of cutting his hours. But at least he never had to where a costume.

    So that’s the extent of my familiarity with the sign spinning job market — purely anecdotal.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Tashina! I’m glad to hear it’s a technique being used other places as well. I had no idea they put that much thought into it. I think it’s pretty brave to be out there dancing around in costumes and spinning signs; it makes me sad to hear they get yelled at for unnecessary reasons. I hope that doesn’t happen everywhere, but I agree the sign spinning is much better than the costume dancing!

  • So, I totally agree that it catches attention but when I see that I usually think they are desperate for business. Maybe they aren’t but that is my perception when I see it. I have only seen the spinners once though…but the costumes for sure make me think slightly more negative about the company. I am intrigued by the spinner/dancer variety! Are you volunteering?

    Great Post!

    • MD – 100% agree with your desperation angle. It screams – we are in trouble and we need to pull out all the stops. I would spend the money on creating a more superior experience that people feel compelled to talk about.

    • While originally I would have agreed with that, it’s becoming more prevalent and it’s kind of a unique form of a new social style of advertising. Not just seeing an ad on the internet but actually having someone out there from the company saying hey we’re fun, come see us. While currently it seems to be companies who have a lower budget for advertising, I don’t think they’re necessarily desperate for business.

  • I have been seeing a ton of sign spinners lately. The one I have noticed the most is for Great Clips and they have a variety of signs they use. I drive the intersection they stand at several times a day and even though I know it is Great Clips I am always looking to see what their sign says today. I guess they are doing a good job becasue I always look. Although I do agree with Melissa that it seems a little desperate for business.

    • You know, now that you say that, I remember seeing someone from Great Clips one time as well, and he was holding like a giant pair of scissors. I’m telling you its the new trend! Park Val what?

  • I have one other comment – Crash Waiting to Happen. There are times that I find myself so distracted by the artistry of it all that I nearly crash my car. I mean some of those guys/gals are really awesome sign spinning dancers. It’s dangerous. Worse than texting while driving.

  • Great post Jessica. I have a client that spent over $20K on “sign spinners” (what we call them here in Los Angeles) last year and is giving us a hard time for charging them half of that amount on social media marketing for their multifamily community. I think it all boils to impressions and the message your impressions send. When someone sees a sign its an obvious advertisement and just how many people will see that sign and feel an engagement with that brand? With a social interaction, on the other hand, on a platform like Twitter or Pinterest, the impression is much more interactive and possibly on-going.

    Bottom line, in my humble opinion, don’t waste your time spinning signs and start spinning your social wheels and engage using social networks. That kind of a following will result in much more of an on-going relationship, brand loyalty, and increased sales.

    Thanks again for a great post!