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BIZZLINE: A sign of the Times Part I

Guest Blog By Citizen Barron

For a new business start-up, hanging a sign shows you are open for business. And unless you are underground or avoiding a spotlight, you are almost certain to hang a shingle.

Publicita’s location is advantageous for being in the spotlight: a busy downtown street between two major intersections. A sign to let everyone know something is going on at the house with the well-tended yard was a rational business decision.

Publicita designed the graphics and had the great people at One-Hour Sign produce it.

Duly hung, on its custom built frame. Publicita was certain that over time its name would precede it by virtue of the sign.

Within weeks the sign was tagged as a breach of city by-law ordinances and publicita was told it had to come down. Since the city has a policy of only acting on complaints, Publicita realized that on top of a sign problem, it had a tattle-tale problem.

But there’s more to this story than a sad ending where the little guy’s dreams are crushed by bureaucracy and disgruntled neighbours.

The disarming of the business sign called for some sort of alternative action. When a small business spends $100.00 erecting a sign post the expense cannot simply be wasted. So resplendent in sheets of white foam core and a black sharpie paint stick markings, the sign post now hosts self-referencing and pithy quotes to attract the attention of passers-by.

The inaugural anti-sign, sign read “Where is my sign?” shortly followed by “I am a Bad Sign” and recently if you passed by you would have read, “There’s nothing to see here, please move along.”

When asked, Publicita owner Dan Willis says that, “There is always an option for a work around. In this case the city ordinances have not kept up with technology. They say that I cannot put up so much as a squiggle to indicate there is a business going on at the house. These signs in the real world have no association with my business, but online, that is a different story.”

It’s ironic the removal of the sign would become Publicita’s first social media campaign, and more importantly, it caused Publicita’s social media stats to spike. “I would love to see the complaint that suggests “LONG HAIRED FREAKY PEOPLE NEED NOT APPLY” is somehow not parody and therefore protected language, Willis says.

The sign postings have become a source of neighbourhood interest. Traffic slows and people point and stare. Some people even stop to loudly sing when picking up on the Five Man Electrical Band’s, “Sign, sign everywhere a sign” reference.

Online, Willis crowd-sources for ideas, upping the social engagement and providing not only a creative outlet for his followers, but also provides content for his business. You see, Willis’ business is Online Marketing and where the “real-world” bricks and mortar sign failed, the legacy of the wry virtual sign prevails. In the online world, content is King, Queen and if you are smart, Jester, Willis says.

That certainly wouldn’t have been the case had the business sign remained intact.

What would you write on PUBLICITAs sign given the chance? Please put your comments in the space below.


and email it to me, for inclusion!!!

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