Dec 17, 201309:00 AMPoint of View

The METROPOLIS Blog

Signgeist 4: Truth in (Seasonal) Advertising

Signgeist 4: Truth in (Seasonal) Advertising

Signgeist scours the countryside for homegrown, "honest" Christmas-tree advertisements.

Courtesy David Vanden-Eynden

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Oh, the joy of the holidays—family, food, friends; traditions old and new; a coming together of past and present; a seasonal smorgasbord of do-it-yourself optimism; and a visual bombardment of twinkle and glitter…green, red, and otherwise.

Everywhere around us—from the uber-urban metropolis of New York City to far-away havens in the country—seasonal signs are popping up, offering everything from Christmas trees and turkeys to yoga, parking, and whoopie pies. Goofy graphics, cheesy fonts, and a palette of seasonal colors are hallmarks of holiday signs from coast to coast. No matter what the weather in your neck of the woods, you'll find signs large and small depicting evergreens and snowmen creating a cartoon kaleidoscope that is at once comforting, familiar, and predictable, yet frustrating in its sameness. 

Pre-fab or homemade, signs and decorations start to creep out before Thanksgiving, and before long, they cover every available surface proclaiming, "JOY!", “'TIS THE SEASON!!", "PEACE!!!", BUY BUY BUY SHOP SHOP SHOP!!! Many are crass advertisements, disguising their blatant commercialism in a sticky, saccharine, and insincere red and green holiday missive.

Regrettably, one thing that is missing in all of this urban holiday “spirit” is a sense of honesty. Real truth in advertising! If you want to find it, head outside the cacophony of the city. In rural areas nationwide, tree farmers promote their products with simple handmade signs. While garden stores and city vendors may employ a more upscale approach with banners from the local sign shop, it is the wonderful homemade signs that genuinely reflect their makers: imperfect perhaps, a little rough-around-the-edges, but honest, earnest, and true. These are the ones we love!

A favorite example of ours—that has since disappeared—was a child-like depiction of a pine tree with the words U-CUT and an arrow. It was simple, unpretentious, direct, and very, very clear. This sketch is what the sign looked like before it vanished—probably hit by a passing car.

Courtesy David Vanden-Eynden

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