Plumbing the lows in dehumanizing advertising

Fig. 1. On the Piner Road side of a 76 gas station at 3230 Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, California 95403, United States, on November 4, 2014. Photograph by author.
Fig. 1. On the Piner Road side of a 76 gas station at 3230 Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, California 95403, United States, on November 4, 2014. Photograph by author.
You know those guys that pizza joints, tax preparation joints, and other retail operations occasionally hire to advertise their businesses by waving their sign so it catches the attention of motorists? You know, the ones who bring along their music and show off their dance moves? Based on a web search, I guess they’re called “sign spinners.”

Fig. 2. Original caption: "Sandwich-board advertising man. This man advertised photographic services, by walking up and down Oxford Street." Henry Grant, ca. 1969-1971, via Museum of London.
Fig. 2. Original caption: “Sandwich-board advertising man. This man advertised photographic services, by walking up and down Oxford Street.” Henry Grant, ca. 1969-1971, via Museum of London, fair use.
I tend to be even less impressed with this sort of advertising than other kinds. I assume that the performers are getting paid minimum wage for what is, after all, really rather degrading work, the sort of work akin to when, once upon a time, business owners would hire someone who was down and out to wear a sandwich board (figure 2). It is to suggest that the person wearing or holding the sign can obviously not be put to productive work, but may, as an act of charity, be permitted to advertise a business where people do do “productive” work.

Then there’s the mannequin I saw with a mechanized device to rotate the sign outside a gas station in Santa Rosa (figure 1). The mannequin depicts a young blonde female, appealing to stereotypical male preferences. It won’t go on strike, complain about working conditions, or expect to be paid. It won’t even notice if men sexually harass it. My web search also turned up “air dancers” and “sky dancers,” vinyl creations that are inflated in a way that they appear to move rhythmically, but they typically don’t appear human, at least in the way that a mannequin does.

I’m not sure which is worse.

One thought on “Plumbing the lows in dehumanizing advertising

  • February 10, 2015 at 11:24 am
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    sir,if you like i can tell you about henry our sandwich board man and my father who employed him.henry was always treated with great respect by us.regards

    Reply

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