Ever felt like you’ve been chasing your own tail? Running in circles for days? Shoveling sand into the tsunami!!!?
That’s what postering on Queen St. W in Toronto can feel like.
I’ve now played my hand many times in the urban-blood-match that is downtown postering, and it can be discouraging and disheartening, as well as downright enraging if you are a weak player in the game. The sheer number of event posters that I have plastered and taped all over this fair city over the years could be enough to drown in, though I’m sure I’d have enough sheets left over to fashion some sort of 1920′s poster-steamboat…
Let’s get to the bottom of this…
I recently had a really successful fundraising event for my next short film ‘I Spyders’ and in anticipation, took to the streets once again with a bag of posters and a head full of dreams. ‘They’ll really see them this time!’ I said quietly. ‘Oh Golly! Free-advertising! This country is so swell!’ And it is, but with free advertising, comes the reality of the competition with which you face.
I’ve felt the bitch-slap before, where I put up my millions of (sometimes) expensive posters, only to return a day later to find them completely wiped out, covered up, or damaged beyond recognition. And gosh does it hurt. So on this last venture out to promote a show, I made sure to poster Queen St W the evening before the event – and poster I did. I ‘owned’ the poster sector of Queen St W for a moment, having totally gone against what I feel to be the unspoken rules of maintaining good postering-karma – covering every surface in sight, regardless of when the event was, what it was for, or who walking ahead of me had just put their posters up! I know…what a dickhead eh? I went and saw a great ‘women in prison’ movie with some friends, and was full of quiet satisfaction. This was shattered upon exiting the theatre, when I found that 90% of them had been covered, as though they had never been there in the first place.
The tsunami swells and grows in strength…
It really does suck a sore pair of balls, but Queen Street W is the nexus of free advertising, and there are volumes of folks that may pay attention to your cause – it is the arena to conquer if postering is important for promoting your event.
This got me wondering about whether all of this postering is at all effective for us – the little guy? By little guy, I mean those who are out putting up their own advertisements, feeling the cold and occasional scorn from a middle-aged passerby who blurbs off some rant about his tax dollars being used to clean this non-sense up, etc. Anyone but the folks who are employed by large postering companies to come in like a blitzkrieg attack and pave every surface with their glossy, colourful distractions.
I don’t know! But I did attempt an experiment to get the slightest read on this very question. I printed off a number of simple, eye-grabbing black on white posters that asked people: ‘Hey! Do you like this poster? Do you see this poster?‘ and prompted them to email the address ‘email@example.com‘ if they did.
I wanted to see if a poster on it’s own is enough to influence someone to respond to its message. My hypothesis was that if someone were to attend an event based on a poster alone (scheduling the time in their social calendar, taking out money, rallying friends, etc.) then someone would be just as likely to respond to an email request from a poster. (less effort, living in the cell-phone age etc.) The only real downside that I note, is that an email address called ‘posterwatch’ does sound slightly authoritative.
It’s now been a good 4 hours since I posted on Queen St W, and with a DRUUUUUUUUUUM ROLLLLLLLLLLLL I will announce that NO ONE has responded to firstname.lastname@example.org!!! Clearly, the results of this flawless experiment have proven that postering is a fruitless labor.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this – if you’ve postered in the past, what you think about the effectiveness of it, and if it really is worth those layers of trash that peel off onto the street on a daily basis.
These kinds of experiments really benefit from having alot of spare time on your hands at your place of employment or otherwise. As I am still at work, I better get back to what I was doing before:
Salame and Sayonara!
Update – Nov 30
YES! On November 29th, I received a response from 1 person who saw my poster! Glory Glory Hallelujah!
So I guess this means that posters can reach the masses, yes?
BTW – no paper was wasted in the making of this post…except for all the posters that I put up…fuck off