Competitive Sign Spinning Spreads Its California Roots

Some of the young men and women that LA drivers see spinning advertisements for local businesses at busy intersections go on to compete in the annual World Sign Spinning Championships

It's a common sight at busy Southern California intersections — a young man or woman twirling a sign pitching a local business, busting a move like the overhead spin or turning and dipping while flipping plastic.

It's all part of a growing new industry — the gravity-defying moves called sign spinning are taking off around the world, from Los Angeles to Johannesburg to Seoul, South Korea.

It all started with a group of Southern California teenagers who took up sign spinning as part-time jobs. Two of them — Max Durovic and Mike Kenny — established a self-proclaimed guerrilla marketing company AArrow Inc. in 2002, which now employs more than 2,500 people globally.

"Most jobs don't really give you the chance to make people smile," said Kenny, whose company created a "tricktionary" of 500 dance moves.

These sign spinners work year-round not just to earn extra cash, but to make it to the annual crowning event, the World Sign Spinning Championships, which had its ninth installment in Las Vegas in February. More than 100 AArrow spinners competed for the world championship title this year.

The spinner who won was a three-time world champ from Florida, a giant human rubber band, according to Durovic.

This week an event was held in North Hollywood.

The company is seeing a growing number of high-profile clientele such the NFL, McDonald's, and Uber. Sign spinners even advertised for Pepsi at Super Bowl XLIV. Some showed off their tricks on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

The job pays $10 an hour and spinners are mostly high school and college age.

"For some, it's a choice between getting involved with a gang and getting a job," said Kenny. "We call this more of a family than a business."

The spinners are disciplined. They practice once a week as a team. They work on endurance and learn new moves.

"I can't keep pace with these kids," said Kenny.

Durovic is currently trying to master upside-down tricks. "The kids' style is different, but my moves are still extremely effective," he said.

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