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On street corners, student spins ads

Sign-spinners from all over the globe will take their talent to Los Angeles from Feb. 14 to 20 for a sign-spinning competition, and an Ohio State student-spinner might join them.

The spinners, often seen on street corners and outside businesses, get paid to attract as many eyes as possible to the human-sized, arrow-shaped banner advertisements they toss in the air. Their stunts are often accompanied by break-dance-style improvisation.

Matt Gardner, a third-year in food and science technology, said he and his fellow sign-spinners constantly compete to come up with the best tricks. He works for the campus advertising branch of AArrow Ads, a San Diego-based company that trains spinners in “guerilla marketing,” according to the company’s website. If he is nominated as the best trickster in the campus group, he gets to compete in LA.

Known as a “spinstructor,” Gardner has worked for the company since June. Now a trainer for the company, Gardner also designs all the signs for the campus spinning team.

On top of that, he helps recruit and hire, and has expanded the Columbus team into a successful group of spinners, said Carson Woods, owner of the Columbus franchise of AArrow Ads.

Olaniyi Gaiusbayode, a student at Bradford School in the Northeast Side and another member of the campus team, started with AArrow Ads close to the same time as Gardner.

“Every time at practice, he shows me a couple new tricks and helps me get comfortable as a sign-spinner,” Gaiusbayode said.

Gardner was originally interested in the job as a way to make money while in school, Gardner said. The starting salary is $10 an hour and can double overtime, he said.

To keep track of the spinning moves, Gardner and the other spinners consult the “Tricktionary,” a book of moves. Some included in the book are the basic 360-degree spin or the behind-the-back spin, he said.

The signs are lined with leather to make spinning safer, but bruises, especially at the beginning, are inevitable, Gardner said, pointing to evidence on his forearm. There is an insurance policy for each spinner to deal with all types of “spin-juries.”

Woods said the goal behind the spinning is to interact with passersby and make a positive impression.

“Point, smile and wave,” are basic steps, he added.

Gardner’s experiences with AArrow Ads could help him start his own business in the future, he said. Likewise, his experience as a team leader and manager helped him learn how to cut out the weakest link and make the team stronger.

“This is good experience no matter what I decide to do in the future,” he said. 

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