Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Aarow Advertising Puts A New "Spin" On The Adwalker

I know this isn't exactly digital signage, but it's simply too odd to pass up...

The Traverse City Record-Eagle of Northern Michigan posted a story Sunday about a very unorthodox new out-of-home advertising scheme. According to the article, "Aarrow Advertising, a San-Diego based company that specializes in "human directionals," industry-speak for twirling advertising signs for ballgames, toy stores, car lots -- even musicians. The company's sign spinners are professionally trained to complete hundreds of tricks and their pay is based on performance and skill, said Public Relations Director Sarah Frye. Each is required to complete Aarrow Boot Camp, a week of intensive training which separates Aarrow sign spinners from other companies."

"Human directional", eh? Somehow I see that being a huge conversation killer when trying to get a date.

Anyway, the concept of having actual human beings advertise using something more exciting than pamphlets or free samples has been around for ages (think sandwich boards), and more recently was implemented on digital signage platforms thanks to Adwalkers.

In all honesty, I think this is a form of OOH advertising that just doesn't work. I know a lot of other people who get annoyed by walking, talking advertisements bent on "interacting" with them, and usually not in a fun way. Unlike the digital variety, human-powered ads too often come with an attitude because these people hate their jobs. I work in Manhattan, so everyday I'm bombarded by people handing out free coupons to for meals, shows and events (some less reputable than others). I'm never interested in what they have to offer (guess I'm just not the right target), but I always feel sorry for those people because most of them look like they genuinely do not want to be where they are.

Granted, these so-called human directionals are more like ad cheerleaders than gritty street peddlers, so there's a chance that they'll be more in tune with their jobs, and less nasty when you explain for the fourth time that you're really not interested in the grand opening of New York's newest "hottest new spot."

As mobile and non-traditional OOH advertising continues to gain popularity, more and more unconventional approaches are going to start popping up in order to grab people's attention. Fine. That's the name of the game. But some of these approaches just won't be effective, and I have a feeling that this is going to be one of them.

And I really don't look forward to getting hit in the head by a wayward twirling sign as I go through my morning commute ;)

Tags: out-of-home advertising, aarow advertising, OOH advertising


Unknown said...


I am involved with Adwalker in a professional capacity. The folks with the computer packs (brand ambassadors in Adwalker-speak) do not approach people. They are trained to wait for people to approach them as they walk about in public places. They make their pitch only after a consumer has expressed interest. It seems that the curiosity factor is sufficient to get consumers' attention.

Ted Faraone

Bill Gerba said...

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the clarification. Intrusiveness is definitely one of the principle arguments against out-of-home advertising, so it's great to hear that Adwalker is taking this approach.

Unknown said...

wow. i haven't seen this blog. I'm actually Sarah. The girl pictured above. Personally, I love my job. I've been working for AArrow almost 3 years now.

If you have any questions in regards to the company, feel free to respond to me :)