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Drive-Through Performance Advertising
By: Victoria Hoey
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To celebrate Opening Day across America, here is a challenge for you: Try and come up with a profession that has pioneered a sport.

Hieroglyphics prove that swimming and fishing were developed and regulated several thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, but even folks from Boston will admit that the main reason they watch “Outdoors” with Charlie Moore is because they fell asleep during the last few innings of a Red Sox Game and woke up to The Mad Fisherman yelling something about “Larry the Largemouth Bass.” Parkour or gymnastics are closer examples, but you have to consider being a warrior a profession and that is a whole other (dare we say it?) can of worms.

Still can’t think of any? You don’t have to do much digging on the Internet to figure out why. In fact, the word SPORT is actually short for disport, which literally means "pastime, entertainment." [i] Historians believe that organized competitions were created to develop and evolve skills. They were a way for society to practice conquering nature, and the environment can also give insight to social change. So, where do we go once we have achieved perfection over nature to 1/100th of a second?

It’s a combination that requires the grace of martial arts and the cunning of guerrilla advertising…called Sign Spinning.

In 2002, a promotional company named AArrow Sign Spinning (out of Ocean Beach, California) found a way to turn a boring job into a lucrative business by using the most basic fundamental of advertising: reciprocity. The second most of us put down our textbooks and pick up a time sheet, we forget that if an audience is generous enough to provide us with some of their attention it’s our job to reward them with something of value. In this case, the reward is a front-row seat to a unique performance from the comfort of your own car.

“The implication is you (the advertiser) have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in return,” says The Godfather of marketing and the author of Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion Robert B. Cialdini.

AArrow Sign Spinning employees are specially trained to capture the attention of drivers with personal smiles, high energy, and hundreds of complex tricks using nothing but their coordination and a patented arrow-shaped sign sponsored by local companies. In the past 12 years, this formula has not only become an international success, but now it’s becoming a highly competitive sport.

The company website states, “Our mission is to grow the sport of sign spinning into a global advertising medium, represented by the world’s strongest shape: the AArrow." That’s right, those guys on the street corner reminding you to get your taxes done or your oil changed have been practicing for more than a decade to break through the media clutter of flashing lights and cell phones with good old-fashioned hard work and have created a stunning new sport at the same time. As Jon Caso (co-creator of the sign-spinning Tricktonary) put it, “We are contributing to the rebirth of one of those obsolete forms of advertising.”

For some amazing examples of Sign Spinning check out these videos on YouTube:

The Art of Spinning
Aarrow Advertising, Spinning Tricks

or rent the documentary “Spinning” from Amazon

“When I’m on that corner, that corner is my stage” –Ray Riveria


[i] ‘Dictionary’ Version 2.2.1 (156) © 2005–2011 Apple Inc. All Rights Reserved.



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About the Author
Victoria Hoey is a recent graduate with degrees in copywriting and advertising.
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