The Coming War on Spinners


The L.A. Times has a fun article on human directionals and the art of attracting attention on city streets. As advertisers turn to teams of sign-twirlers, some cities are moving to protect citizens from the grave danger of manic "spinners." (Petite women of the world: You're safe. For now.)

Local spinners have cooked up hundreds of moves. There's the Helicopter, in which a spinner does a backbend on one hand while spinning a sign above his head. In the Blender, a spinner twirls the sign behind his back. Spanking the Horse gets the most attention. The spinner puts the sign between his legs, slaps his own behind and giddy-ups.

Thanks to growing demand, the business has turned cutthroat. There's a frenzy of talent poaching. Spinners battle one another for plum assignments and the promise of wage hikes. Some of the more prominent compete for bragging rights by posting videos on YouTube and Google Video, complete with trash talking…

The outdoor advertising industry still does not recognize sign spinning as a bona fide way of reaching consumers, much less an art form. It regards spinning as a form of guerrilla marketing that commercializes public space. Some municipalities are even beginning to make sign spinners into outlaws. Riverside, Poway and El Cajon are among the cities that recently banned the practice.

"They can distract people and cause accidents," said Jim Griffin, director of community development in El Cajon. Some sidewalk sign holders try to spin when no one is looking, so Griffin hired weekend staff to catch and ticket them.