How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

By Quynh Tran, Nhung Nguyen   August 6, 2017 | 12:00 am GMT+7
These street vendors need no glaring electronic signs, not even a letter to advertise their goods and services.
How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

Gasoline: the plastic bottles that contain some crystal clear liquid spotted on the road are in fact the signage of gasoline stalls. Usually sold at higher prices than at gas stations, these mini gasoline tanks often come to the rescue when the gas light comes on all too soon. 

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

Also gasoline: this sign requires a better understanding of local codes. In the motorbike city of Saigon, a brick can also mean “We have fuel.”

“I don’t know who came up with this installation in the first place,” said Nguyen, the owner of this street gasoline stall. “But everyone has adopted it. Besides, it is not a good idea to leave a can of gas in the middle of a street.”

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

Those who are more attentive go a bit further by sticking a white piece of paper onto the brick. Still, no words needed.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

But bricks with feathers bear a different meaning: poultry is on sale, most likely live chickens.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

For cars and trucks, sellers use bigger tanks, indicating it's gasoline in large amounts.
The ad resembles the way fruit sellers in the Mekong Delta’s floating markets hang everything they sell on a crane on their boat.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

The technique also applies to raincoats, of course.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

Repairmen: Two tires hanging on the edge of a road means it's bike repair. They are usually used tires, again to reduce the risk of being stolen.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

The whole business is on display. “We are not allowed to leave our equipment close to the edge of the street, where people can easily see,” explained Le, a repairer. “So this is how we improvise.”

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

These empty bottles are the sign of a beverage stall. They also show what is on the menu.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

Coconuts are on sale, and can be spotted from afar.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

In the parks in the downtown, used newspapers are no rubbish, but a sign indicating that this seat is taken by drink vendors nearby. Anyone who sits on them would have to buy a snack or a drink from “the owner”.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

The larger ones are used by vendors to mark their territory as an open-air cafe; park visitors understand that they are only welcome to use these blankets if they order something.

How we sell: Decoding Saigon street vendors’ strange adverts

A large key replica serves as a signage for key cutting.

Shiny billboards are overrated as proven by vendors on Saigon streets. They have mastered the art of signage and need no words to get their message across. Minimalism at its best!

 
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