Sandwich sign goes viral

High-tech marketing has been humbled recently by the good old-fashioned sandwich board.

Propped on a sidewalk or hung from a human being, the classic ad form hit peak popularity in the 19th century, then faded into irrelevance.

Until early this year, that is, when a lowly sandwich board outside a Denver coffee shop made national headlines, including on the front page of The New York Times. Shared widely on social media, the board’s message – “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014” – drew hundreds of gentrification opponents to the coffee shop, temporarily forcing its closure.

In Manchester, England, meanwhile, a sandwich board outside a café noted that an online reviewer had criticized its porridge. The board made national news by inviting passers-by to give the disparaged porridge a try. Lesson: A punchy message can break through the limits of any medium.

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