It seems to be something of a tradition in California to have someone stand on the side of the road with a large placard and/or a costume to promote your slightly-out-of-the-way store. I suppose that this has similar origins to the ‘Golf Sale’ people in London; i.e. it is illegal to put the sign up on the street but it is OK if someone is standing there holding it.
There are various amusing variations on this theme. Especially popular is the dancing-while-you-hold-the-sign example. The person with the placard is often wearing headphones, and jumps around at the side of the road like a dervish – very amusing to watch. Yesterday I saw someone doing this with a sign for ‘Flowers’ and also someone in a silver lame space suit (complete with helmet). Presumably he was promoting a computer or electronics store? I didn’t really notice as I was too distracted by the costume – effective advertising there.
My personal favourites are the poor sods who work for Quiznos. These guys don’t do anything as downmarket as hold a sign – they have to wear a huge foam cup costume (complete with straw) and dance on street corners. If this isn’t the job from hell, I don’t know what is. Proof (if proof were needed) is the Quiznos cup we saw on University Avenue shortly after we arrived – banging his cup-head against a lamppost. One of the funniest, and most surreal, things I have seen here.
There is more on the Quizno’s cup in this article.