Sidewalk Advertising



  • Overview
  • Why sidewalk advertising?
  • Limitations
  • Reach & Frequency
  • Scheduling
  • Audience
  • Impact
  • Cost
  • References


Sidewalks are pathways that lead to homes, businesses and schools. Advertisers are starting to take notice of the busy traffic that sidewalks in large cities occupy every day. With all the clutter, advertisers and business owners have to find different ways to get messages out about products and brands and what better way than the only place advertisements aren’t, the ground. Traditional out-of-home advertisements like billboards are cluttered and now easily avoided, but advertisers are starting to see the possibilities of using sidewalks as a way to create a high reach and using creative ways to keep it legal. Sidewalk advertising is being used to create brand awareness and to advertise promotions and products. Look down at the ground, what do you see?

Why sidewalk advertising?:

Sidewalk advertising is very diverse. There are many ways to use the sidewalk like sidewalk chalk, water stencils, spray paint, and sticker sidewalk advertisements. Sidewalk chalk advertising is very popular on university campuses. For school organizations and local businesses sidewalk chalk is a quick and easy way to get the message to their audience on campus.


Sticker advertisements are also a way to advertise with easy removal to prevent the legal issues. If the sticker seems inappropriate, it can easily be removed. The problem with sticker advertisements is that when it rains, it can pose a serious safety issue when trying to walk on them. The material that the sticker is made of can cause a pedestrian to slip and fall or cause them to trip over any raised edges (Colorado Springs Journal, Commentary, 7/11/2008).
TMobile Sticker Advertisement, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TMobile Sticker Advertisement, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

Spray paint sidewalk advertising is not as popular as sidewalk chalk because of the legal issues that could arise because it could be perceived as graffiti. Spray paint is not as easy to remove as chalk, but it makes for a more permanent advertisement and it is the least affected by the weather. Pepsi’s “Word Play” campaign advertised with spray paint advertising with bold colors and catchy phrases (Haymarket, The Work, 2010).
Pepsi, Word Play Campaign, Toronto
Pepsi, Word Play Campaign, Toronto


Water stenciling is the newest version of sidewalk advertising. This is a green way to advertise products. Water stenciling is simply using a stencil of an advertisement and pressure washing the image onto the sidewalk. Water stenciling is a great way to create brand awareness and to have people wondering how the company was able to do it (Guerrilla Marketing, Sidewalk Advertising, 2010).


Not everyone is fond of sidewalk advertising. Companies are using public sidewalks to place their advertisements, but there are some companies stepping on the toes of privately owned businesses that do not wish to have advertisements on their portion of the sidewalk. Kansas University has taken it a step further by prohibiting all outside businesses from advertising on their campus sidewalks. The sidewalk chalk messages were a great way to allow bars to advertise for free and giving students an idea of how to spend their night. The president of the university said that he wanted to prevent the students from binge drinking by eliminating the bars from advertising on campus. If any business is caught using the sidewalks for advertising they will be forced to clean and remove the advertisement and could face trespassing charges. Some cities and other universities are also taking the same action against sidewalk advertising by prohibiting the advertisements and enforcing the removal (, KU draws line on sidewalk advertising, Aug. 23, 2010).

Reach & Frequency:

Sidewalks are everywhere in the world. For big cities like New York City, sidewalks see as much traffic as do the roads. Because there are so many people walking to or from work and vacationing or visiting, many different people will see the advertisement. Sidewalk advertising is a great way for any brand or company to obtain a high reach and maintain a moderate level of frequency. If a company is looking to create a high frequency, they can also use sidewalk advertising with other forms. Vector Marketing uses posters, fliers,and sidewalk advertising to have the audience see the advertisements over and over again (Vector Marketing, Interview, 11/18/2010).


For weather purposes, scheduling is a problem for sidewalk advertising. Depending on the city or type of advertising, advertisers must choose wisely when to start a campaign for sidewalk advertising. For example, during the winter months it is not a good idea to do any sidewalk advertising. The only exception could be spray paint sidewalk advertising in a city that does not get any snow. The best time for all sidewalk advertising is from May to September and for warmer climate areas, like Arizona, it could be year round.

Zynga's advertising campaign for "Mafia Wars"


Depending on the location and type of sidewalk advertising the audience will change, keeping sidewalk advertising diverse. Sidewalk chalk advertising is popular in college campuses and small cities. It is quick way to appeal to an audience. Using sticker, spray paint and water stencil sidewalk advertisements, the audience could be anyone. It is a great for big cities and populated areas, appealing to large audience. Messages from sidewalk advertising cannot be detailed because of the limited time there is to catch the audience. It is important to be creative and decisive with sidewalk advertising to appeal to the audience.


The response time from using sidewalk advertising is about 24 to 48 hours. It is important to place the advertisements in high traffic areas. Placement is the key to making an impact on your audience. Most companies will use sidewalk advertising by putting their website address to allow web based access to company information. Vector Marketing uses sidewalk advertising in the Fall and in the Spring to increase awareness. (Vector Marketing, Interview, 11/18/2010)
MSNBC sidewalk advertising with web address.


Sidewalk advertising is a free form of advertising. If caught without permission on a college campus or a private business, they do have the authority to charge for trespassing and vandalism. Most college campuses will sell permits for the rights to their sidewalks and some others simply ignore the chalk because it will fade within a few hours.


"City Needs to Give More Consideration to How Best to Sell Sidewalk Advertising." Colorado Springs Business Journals 11 July 2008. Print.

CROMIDAS, RACHEL. "The Pulse: Sidewalk Stencils? Not in Chicago." The New York Times 30 July 2010: 17A. Print.
Hyland, Andy. "KU Draws Line on Sidewalk Advertising /" / Lawrence Journal-World, Kansas. 23 Aug. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <>.
"Pepsi 'word Play' by BBDO Toronto - Advertising News - Campaign." Advertising News & Advertising Jobs - Visit Campaign's Website for Brands, Ad Agencies & to Watch Ads. 16 June 2009. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. <>.

"Sidewalk Advertising - Kenneth Cole Comes Clean." Guerilla Marketing - Street Team Promotion - Alternative Advertising - Street Team Promo - Guerilla Marketing Strategy. 15 Aug. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <>.
Snowden, Ben. "Vector Marketing: Sidewalk Advertising." Telephone interview. 18 Nov. 2010.

"T-Mobile Gets Verizon-Envy In Gallery Place." Penn Quarter Living. Gpliving, 30 Apr. 2006. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <>.
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