Image via WikipediaWhen I was a kid my family frequently was on the road as we traveled to one place or another. After I learned how to read, one of my favorite backseat activities on those trips was watching for the Burma Shave signs.
Burma Shave was an old-fashioned men's shaving cream product that resorted to an old school style of advertising--the roadside sign. The product sign itself would be preceded by a series of small signs that would present a catchy poem or saying that sometimes was about the product, but also about topics like highway safety.
Here is an example of a series of Burma Shave signs:
|Made a hit|
Serial advertising signs are still in use although usually coming in billboard form along the interstates where signage is permitted. Some examples are the signs between Houston and San Antonio advertising travel stop Buc-ee's, the billboards along I-90 for South Dakota attraction Wall Drug, and the roadside campaign hype teasing The Thing? in Arizona.
Long stretches of highway are sprinkled with the signs that begin to create an anticipation to see what's going to come next. Eventually there is the payoff of the attraction, but were the signs enough to draw the traveler off the highway? Did the signs keep the viewers entertained as they went on their journeys?
When I go to the Twitter site I can't help be reminded of those serial signs. Small doses in a few words try to grab hold of the surfer of the Twitterscape, but is the tweet powerful enough to make me look--cause me to be curious or remember what I've seen?
Traveling the web is like taking a journey without a vehicle, without leaving your home. Taking in the blogs and websites is more like sitting back with a magazine or visiting the library. Twitter is like a road trip where the road goes on forever and it's filled with Burma Shave signs. But if the content doesn't grab me I may stop paying attention. If I stop paying attention, I might miss that exit for Buc-ees. If the lure of the words isn't strong enough, I might decide that The Thing? is just a rip-off and not worth my time.
The Burma Shave signs came in small doses and were memorable and clever. They didn't get old because they left us wanting more. We looked for them. Twitter may be overkill.
The Burma Shave bards might have put it this way:
Tired eyes from
Too many tweets
Might cause this guy
To fall asleep