When Tech Gets Really Annoying

By on June 23, 2005

It’s almost lunch time, and I’m driving down the street, not too fast and not too slow. My belly has been reminding me for a while that it’s been several hours since I finished my bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, and just then a Burger King joint comes into view. I’m thinking, “Hmmm. I wonder what their special is today.” Apparently reading my mind, the super spiffy gee-whiz Daktronics Message Center animated sign flashes “SPECIAL” several times in a very special animated sequence that must’ve taken hours to program. Then the display changes to read


in really big letters, and pauses for a few seconds. As I get closer and closer to the restaurant’s driveway, I’m thinking to myself, “That would taste really good about now,” but the cheapskate in me is also asking, “How much does it cost?” By this time I’m less than a block away. Next comes


(or something like that) in really big letters. Great. So you’ve got a SPECIAL on a TENDERCRISP CHICKEN SANDWICH COMBO and it takes you four blocks to tell me that? By the time it’s too late for me to turn, in the sign still hasn’t flashed the SPECIAL’s price, so I drive right on by, looking for another place to buy lunch. Their advertising efforts just lost them a sale.

I realize that there are few rocket scientists running Burger King restaurants, but does it take a marketing genius to know that there is a limited amount of time for them to convey a message to passing motorists? With the old-fashioned signage, a Burger King would put up “TNDRCRISP COMBO $3.95” or something like that, which can be read in a glance and gets the message across in a fraction of a second. The galling thing is that with the electronic signage they could do the same thing, but they choose to jazz it up, and end up failing to get their message across.

Come to think of it, these electronic marquees suffer from some of the same maladies that make PowerPoint presentations so painful. Deane has written several posts about some of the issues with PowerPoint; if only the people setting these signs up would bone up on PowerPoint etiquette they’d have better success with their streetside advertising. Or at least it wouldn’t suck quite so badly.

There should be a severe penalties for people who set up messages on electronic marquee boards that span more than two pages.



  1. I know what you mean. At a major intersection in my town, there is a bank that has very large, very expense sign. When you are stopped at the light you cannot read the whole message before the light turns green. Maybe no one from the bank has actually tried to read it…. What a waste.

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