Ads with a New Purpose
by Ogilvy & Mather for IBM


These billboards by creative agency Ogilvy & Mather stretch outwards to double as street furniture (+ movie).

Designed for IBM's Smarter Cities campaign, the strategy fuses advertising with helpful additions to the street such as benches, shelters and ramps.

Ads with a New Purpose by Ogilvy and Mather for IBM

Ogilvy & Mather designed one billboard that curves over at the top to form a rain shelter and another that peels up from the wall to create a seat. A ramp covering steps assists those wheeling bicycles or suitcases through the streets.

Ads with a New Purpose by Ogilvy and Mather for IBM

Each ad uses simple graphics in bold colours to represent its function, with text encouraging users and passers by to interact online.

The billboards were first launched in London and Paris, and IBM intends to roll out the designs across other cities around the world.

Ads with a New Purpose by Ogilvy and Mather for IBM

Last month we reported that researchers from IBM had redesigned the bus routes across Ivory Coast's largest city using data from mobile phones.

Other stories about street furniture include a bollard with a foot rest and handle to help cyclists keep their balance at traffic lights and a perforated street lamp.

See more street furniture design »

Ogilvy sent us the extra information below:

IBM & Ogilvy France Create Ads with a New Purpose

IBM is committed to creating solutions that help cities all over the world get smarter, in order to make life in those cities better.

That’s why IBM and Ogilvy are working together to spark positive change with the “People for Smarter Cities” project, and unite city leaders and forward-thinking citizens.

To spread the word, Ogilvy created outdoor advertising with a purpose: a bench, a shelter and a ramp that are not only designed to be beautiful, but to be useful to city dwellers as well.

Initially launched in London and Paris, IBM has plans to take this idea to cities around the world and inspire citizens to think about simple ways they can help make their cities smarter.

  • johan

    If these were actual billboards that were located in urban areas and served a function there (and were photographed in those situations) I would be able to appreciate them. The idea is clever but I would like to see real life solutions, not just another PR stunt.

    • Sam

      This is the same cynical attitude we're getting in NYC for the new great bike sharing program, which Citi Bank is sponsoring. Of course these companies are trying to build rapport with the public, but when they're doing it in a creative and powerful way that is actually benefiting the public, why not let them? Better than a billboard along the freeway.

      • chris

        Actually, maybe not better than a billboard. Billboards are explicit places for companies to advertise. There is a difference when companies start to invade public spaces like this in the guise of providing something “smart” for the community when there are so many restrictions on what actual residents/the puiblic/the community themselves can do.

        I think it’s invasive with it’s intent to promote business. I do think it’s a clever idea and hey, good for them, but I don’t think that means it is “Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities”.

      • johan

        These are three clever ideas that are only executed for the sake of advertising. They exist only for media purposes. The very nature of this is to communicate how great IBM is and how clever Ogilvy & Mather can package that message.

        In advertsing and communication design terms it’s a job well done, but these don’t have any real value on a long term basis for the quality of the urban environment. So exactly the same as a billboard along the freeway.

  • Jay

    Smart ideas indeed.

  • Nick Simpson

    In pure design terms, this is great.

    However there's an issue here when society stops providing it's own basic public furniture, allowing advertisers to creep into every corner of our cities.

    • I hear ya.

      • greg

        Totally agree, as with metal and glass bus stops that feel the need to incorporate poster size advertisements. Why can’t we just keep it clean and functional?!

    • studio

      They’d thrown in the odd divider to prevent sleeping on the benches. So much for “integrated” design.

  • Mira

    Really top! Super simple, useful, creative and funny – real refreshment in the city. Very inspiring, bravo!

  • boooo

    That wall holding the umbrella board is NOT going to be happy.

  • João Ferreira

    What a revolting, dreadful, nasty, corporate occupation of public space. Despicable and downright shocking.

  • Fadipe Akin Timothy

    These ads are nice, I love the strategic idea of its functionality. This is an innovative idea.