The History of Sandwich Board Advertising

by Lesley Sampson Freelance Writer

A sandwich board is method of advertising usually deployed in busy pedestrian areas to advertise businesses within easy walking distance. It is composed of two boards which display a message or a company image and can either be carried by a person, with one board in front and one behind (creating the sandwich effect), or set up in a triangle shape in front of a store to advertise offers and deals available. Sandwich boards are still frequently seen on major shopping streets such as Oxford Street, London; Champs Elysees, Paris, and 42nd Street, New York City, where they are used to advertise offers from particular stores, often located in adjacent side streets. Not many people are aware of the origins of sandwich board advertising – read on to find out the history of sandwich board advertising.


There is a rumour that sandwich board advertising began in the town of Sandwich, England in the year 1221, at a small café at number 10 Board Street. The owner of the café invented the sandwich board. Each morning he would put out a sandwich board which advertised his lunch specials, in order to lure in many of the hundreds of people that passed by his busy café. In those days, it was legal to smoke a pipe inside cafes, until one day when the law enforced a smoking ban. The owner of the café became furious as it reduced the numbers of people who would go to his café so he took down his sandwich board and refused to be a part of the massive expansion of Sandwich.


However, as interesting as that rumour is, it is of course completely nonsensical. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines a sandwich board as an “advertising sign consisting of two placards fastened together at the top with straps supported on the shoulders of the carrier, or sandwich man.”


The sandwich board was a popular form of advertising deployed in the 19th century by merchants and tradesmen who hired men to carry the placards up and down the busy streets, to promote their goods to passers-by. It is purported that Charles Dickens was the first to coin the term “sandwich men” to refer to the sign carriers. Sandwich boards disappeared in the early 20th century and were not seen again until the Great Depression, when a lack of funds available for advertising campaigns led to the inexpensive sandwich board advertising method to become popular once more. Today sandwich boards are still used by many a local merchant in order to generate publicity and promote more sales for the business with special deals and events.


Sandwich boards were however banned in London’s West End in 2008 as part of a plan to “smarten up the area”.


In May 2012, several newspapers reported the case of a man who, despite having obtained a Master’s degree, was unable to find full time work after applying to 15,000 job roles. As a last resort, he decided to deploy the inexpensive advertising method of the sandwich board, and paraded up and down the M5 slip-road wearing a sign reading “hire me please”.


Mr Norton, from Birmingham, has a Master’s degree in history and several NVQs but has been overlooked by endless employers in his quest to find full time employment, adding that he has applied for about 25 jobs each week for the last ten years without getting anywhere.

He’s not the only unemployed person to resort to such drastic measures; those who have used sandwich board advertising in a desperate bid to gain employment include a US college graduate from Boston, as well as another Briton who managed to gain successful employment by impressing employers with his spirit and dedication. He stood for four hours at Junction 9 of the M60 in Manchester wearing a sandwich board.


UKPoS advertising boards include the now infamous sandwich board and can be used as a very successful way of advertising a business’ deals and special offers.

About Lesley Sampson Freshman   Freelance Writer

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Joined APSense since, February 1st, 2013, From Manchester, United Kingdom.

Created on Dec 31st 1969 19:00. Viewed 0 times.


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