Sandwich board

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Man wearing a sandwich board
A-board set up next to a store
A-board set up next to a store

A sandwich board is a type of advertisement tool composed of two boards with a message or graphic on it and being either carried by a person, with one board in front and one behind in a triangle shape, hinged along the top, creating a "sandwich" effect; or set up next to a store advertising its goods. In this way, the advertising message can be read on both sides interchangeably.


The increased competition for poster space and the inconveniences of an advertising tax led the advertisers to generate a type of advertisement that moves[1] a handy sales tool to promote sales.[2] The term "sandwich man" was coined by Charles Dickens.[3] He described these advertisers as "a piece of human flesh between two slices of paste board".[1] Sandwich boards were most popular in the 19th century, and have largely been supplanted by billboards, which are more effective in advertising to passers-by who are now likely to be in automobiles, rather than traveling by foot.[4][citation needed]

However, they are still frequently to be seen on major shopping streets such as Oxford Street, London; Champs Élysées, Paris, and 42nd Street, New York City, where they are used to advertise offers from particular stores most often in adjacent side-streets.[citation needed]


There are generally two types of sandwich boards.

Carried version[edit]

The carried version is usually attached to straps acting as suspenders, allowing the person wearing the boards to carry the weight on his or her shoulders and keeping the boards balanced on the wearer. The wearer might also pass out flyers or shout advertising slogans. These sandwich men are seen parading in a queue cladded in a specific costume.[5] They were gorgeously dressed at the beginning but later they were portrayed wearing shabby clothes in many illustrations that failed to attract consumers attention.[1] In many cities of the world these type of advertisements are considered illegal and is a punishable offence.[6] According to the London Hackney Carriage Act 1853 and Section 9 of the Metropolitan Streets Act 1867, it is not lawful for any person to carry any picture, placard, notice, or advertisement, on any carriage or on horseback or on foot except those which are approved of by the Commissioner of Police.[7][8]


Another is called "A-board" which is kept next to the stores, on public transport grounds, such as sidewalks or pedestrian zones to draw the attention of the customers passing by.[9] These A-boards resemble the shape of letter A. In some modern A-boards the conventional two boards have been replaced by a single board hanging within the frame. A-boards are most typically deployed in busy pedestrian areas to advertise businesses. Advertising the business website or social media page on these boards helps the business get recognized locally as well as internationally.[10] This kind of advertising is most popular among bars and restaurants.[11] For some small businesses is it the main type of advertising.[12]

Materials used[edit]

Many different types materials are used to make these boards. The carried type is generally made up of light materials like cardboard or paperboard[13] and yarn to hang it to the shoulders.[citation needed]

The conventional types of A-boards are traditionally made with any rigid flat material such as fibre board, chip board, wood, plyboard or MDF. Modern A-boards are made with plastic, steel or aluminum and in some of them the hinges are made with leather. Cheaper A-boards are made with wood-frame with cloth nailed upon and printed with screen-print or painted by hand. Chalkboards are also used as a A-board material, with the advertisement messages written by hand.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using different materials. Wooden frames can be damaged by termites. Plastic materials like PVC become fragile with weather and polyethylene sandwich boards get warped in varying temperatures which causes bowing or dishing of the surface, which distorts the message or graphic printed on it.[14] Phthalates used as plasticizers and lead[15] used for workability and stability in PVC contribute to health complications.[16] Moreover printing on plastic materials which needs a special type of ink is costly. Chalkboard A-boards allow for messages to be easily replaced, but they must be written by hand, and the messages are susceptible to rain. Aluminum or steel frames are comparatively durable, but vulnerable to strong winds and bad weather conditions, especially rain, and wear out over time.[17] On windier days sandbags are sometimes hung under the board as a counterweight which gives balance and stability.[18] Colors often fade away after prolonged exposure to the sun.[19] The use of different materials in a single object makes these boards unsuitable for recycling.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "London Street Advertising, showing Sandwich Men, human billboards, placards and banners". January 31, 2010. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Stephenson, James (2007-01-01). Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide: 1500 Great Marketing Tricks That Will Drive Your Business Through the Roof. Entrepreneur Press. p. 329. ISBN 978-1-61308-043-6.
  3. ^ "Sandwich board advertising". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  4. ^ Odih, Pamela (2007). Advertising in Modern and Postmodern Times. SAGE. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7619-4190-3.
  5. ^ Singh, Dr S. K.; Gupta, Sanjay (2020-06-26). Entrepreneurship With Practical Class XII by Dr. S. K. Singh, Sanjay Gupta: SBPD Publications. SBPD Publications. p. 201.
  6. ^ Miracle, Gordon E.; Nevett, Terence R. (1987). Voluntary Regulation of Advertising: A Comparative Analysis of the United Kingdom and the United States. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-669-13135-2.
  7. ^ Participation, Expert. "London Hackney Carriage Act 1853". Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  8. ^ Participation, Expert. "Metropolitan Streets Act 1867". Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  9. ^ "'A' Boards Policy". City of York Council. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  10. ^ Hawkins, Emily (April 24, 2019). "Unique A-boards can 'raise a pub's profile'". Morning Advertiser. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Goldsworthy, Jessica (July 17, 2020). "20 Witty And Practical Sandwich Board Ideas To Attract Customers". Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  12. ^ Campbell, Alan (October 18, 2019). "Steveston merchants call foul over city's sandwich board threat". Richmond News. Retrieved September 29, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Lundin, Deborah (September 26, 2017). "How to Make a Cardboard Sandwich Board". Our Pastimes. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  14. ^ [1], "Rigid polyethylene sandwich board", issued 1993-08-18 
  15. ^ "China's PVC pipe makers under pressure to give up lead stabilizers - News - Plastics News". 2013-09-11. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  16. ^ Bornehag, Carl-Gustaf; Sundell, Jan; Weschler, Charles J.; Sigsgaard, Torben; Lundgren, Björn; Hasselgren, Mikael; Hägerhed-Engman, Linda (October 2004). "The Association between Asthma and Allergic Symptoms in Children and Phthalates in House Dust: A Nested Case–Control Study". Environmental Health Perspectives. 112 (14): 1393–1397. doi:10.1289/ehp.7187. ISSN 0091-6765. PMC 1247566. PMID 15471731.
  17. ^ "A-Frame Sign". George and Willy. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  18. ^ [2], "Counterpoise constricting disassemblable signage system with foot-actuated interdigitation for different constructs", issued 2003-10-31 
  19. ^ [3], "Folding sign", issued 1989-06-14 

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