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Reno signs spread good cheer

John Seelmeyer

Right about the place a passerby would expect to see a “No parking” placard, a sign in downtown Reno reads “Park your ego for the day.” Around the block, another sign encourages pedestrians to “Pay someone a compliment.” Yet another advises passersby that they’re entering a “No Frowning Zone.” And Stan Byers wouldn’t mind if the signs someday sprout all over the metropolitan area.

Byers, the vice president and creative director of Rose- Glenn Group who’s among the creative spirits behind the signs, said last week he looks at them at something of a small-scale research project in sociology.

How will residents and visitors react to a sign that encourages them to “Detour from the norm”? Will they like them enough that public agencies will spring for some signs of their own at a cost of something less than $100 each and install them throughout the Truckee Meadows? And Byers looks at the signs as an interesting challenge in advertising, as well.

About five years ago, Rose-Glenn Group rolled out the “We Love This Place!” campaign about the area.

The campaign, is noteworthy because of its longevity.

Similar campaigns usually run out of gas after a year or two.

Still, Byers a year ago was thinking about ways he might freshen up “We Love This Place!”

His initial thought: “It would be nice if we could do a good deed for the community.” As that thought rolled around his subconscious for a while, Byers also thought about and quickly discarded traditional inyour- face media advertising urging residents to support their hometown.

Instead, he started musing about what some advertising experts are calling “ambient media” the sort of media that’s just there, waiting to be discovered.

Like skywriting, an idea that Byers initially considered with some enthusiasm before he settled on the signs.

In an hour-long flurry of activity after settling on the signs, the creative team at Rose- Glenn came up with a list of messages.

Despite several review sessions during the next few months, the messages remained unchanged.

Next up, Byers sold Valerie Glenn, president and chief executive officer of Rose-Glenn, who liked it enough to invest in the signs.

“It’s our way of asking the community to reflect on all the wonderful things here,” she said last week.

But what about all the permits, the working through City Hall, the paperwork? It’s easier, Byers and Glenn decided, to ask forgiveness than seek permission.

And so Byers took a wrench and a pocketful of bolts, walked a route along California, Hill and Liberty streets in the neighborhood of the Nevada Museum of Art one recent Wednesday evening, and installed 24 signs.

The response? Nothing much, at least initially.

“They’re designed for foot traffic,” Byers said.

“It’s something that we hope people will stumble across.”


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