#SignWars pops up in Norfolk: Just for the pun of it

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The #SignWars phenomenon that erupted in the United States last month has touched down in Norfolk County.

Businesses in Port Dover and Port Rowan have begun calling each other out just for the pun of it. Meanwhile, more Norfolk businesses are expected to join in before the craze runs its course.

“There’s a point to it,” says Adam Veri of Port Dover, a project manager with the marketing firm Barber and Veri. “It’s just another interesting way for businesses to keep the public’s attention on them.

“This is just a fun way to be a community builder and let the personality of the business and its owners shine through in a way that breaks the monotony of what’s going on. It also reminds us that social media is a very powerful thing. I think it’s great.”

#SignWars has been traced to the small Virginia town of Christianburg. The middle of last month, a business there posted a sign daring a neighbouring business to engage in a sign war. The way it is unfolding across North America, the rules involve zinging a nearby business with a witty, good-natured put-down that also promotes your business and its products and services.

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Even public institutions are getting involved. A sign in the window of the Harbour Museum in Port Dover says “Sign war?? You are all history, which you can learn about here when we re-open!”

Doerksen Country Store has taken the initiative in Port Rowan. Taking advantage of its large, state-of-the-art electronic sign on Bay Street, the Country Store Monday was calling out the LCBO and W.F. Clover Farm grocery store to engage it in a sign war.

For its part, the Saloon Restaurant up the street has already accepted the challenge, posting a sign in its window saying “Without a doubt, Doerksen has the best chicken in all of Norfolk. However, ours comes crispy and won’t bite back!”

Doerksen manager Karen Hammond says everyone can do with something whimsical this spring after 14 months of pandemic living.

“It’s actually great to see so many businesses participating,” Hammond said. “It’s a great way to get your name out there. And it’s fun and lightening the mood.

“So many people are not happy right now and it’s nice that there is something businesses can do to lighten the mood.”

Along with Port Dover and Port Rowan, Sue Downs, president of the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce, has noticed that Wholesome Pickins and other businesses in Delhi are getting in on the fun.

Downs is waiting for Simcoe businesses to follow suit. In terms of marketing, Downs says #SignWars ticks all the boxes when it comes to efficiency and public engagement.

“This competition is for all different sizes of businesses,” Downs said in an email. “I think it’s a brilliant way to not only draw exposure to your business during the lockdown, but also a way to give the community some laughs during a time we can all use it.”

Other communities in the midst of their own #SignWars include Brantford, Listowel, Sarnia, Stratford, Sault Ste. Marie and Chatham-Kent among others.

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