You’ve gotten the e-mails: the ones with the endless string of forwarded address lists and punchy little comments like “So true” and “Some real zingers in here” attached to a series of photos of outrageous statements spelled out in movable letters on a sign for the Casa D’Ice restaurant. Proprietor Bill Balsamico has strong, often profane opinions and he expresses them with a “PC be damned” chip on his shoulder that has captured the attention of millions of Americans.
I’ve laughed, cringed, and clenched my fists over some of his proclamations, but I read every one sent to me. These digital photos of a hand-lettered sign are nothing more than an old-school equivalent of a short blog post, an analog Tweet if you will, yet the undeniable fact is, Bill gets people talking. And now along with this internet notoriety, his modest Italian restaurant at the K-Mart Plaza in North Versailles, Pennsylvania has a new revenue stream: their online store powered by Cafe Press. Bill leverages the notoriety heavily; his rather deep website catalogs the signs, and even lets you sends out e-mail alerts when he posts a new one.
You can build a brand in thousands of ways these days. But whether you’re pushing banking or baked manicotti, it takes singular focus to earn attention in our splintered world.