IBM Turns Its Ads Into Useful Urban Furniture

IBM takes brand utility to the streets.

Did you ever need a ramp for your luggage (or bike), or a shelter from a sudden downpour, or a place to sit down and tie your shoe? IBM believes that city life can be awfully inconvenient—and that cities should be designed with the needs of ordinary citizens in mind.

Many brands talk about making their communications output useful, but they’re usually talking about apps or other digital or social programs. IBM has taken the idea of utility and applied it to the traditional outdoor ad. The company has launched a series of outdoor ads that double as functional surfaces for the "People For Smarter Cities Project." The goal of this campaign, created in collaboration with Ogilvy & Mather France, is to encourage forward-thinking citizens and local leaders to consider how to make their neighborhoods "smarter" and, therefore, better.

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  • Mr Hide

    yes ... people are smart in doing business, but this kind of smartness is not enough to build a smarter planet; the planet has more than 7 billion human beings and most of them does not get the basics necessities of life. Way to go to claim to builda smarter planet? isn't it just numbers?

  • rwordplay

    Yes, I agree Mr. Hide, but would add that the problems faced by the billion of the world's poor are being addressed in a thousand myriads ways, and ignored or exploited in another thousand. 

    However, in fairness to IBM, the messages in this campaign are not intended to address issues involving more equitable wealth distribution, water management, war and peace, but making life a little less stressful, to the privileged urban dweller for whom life is a "medley of song."

  • Mike

    Just because it's in a book doesn't make it true. Do you believe eveything on the internet too? This Jew doesn't believe the claims and since I work for IBM I know what IBM can do. Collaborating with evil people is not something IBM would ever do.

  • Jeremy

    In real streets, the horizontal edges on Figure 1 will become the ultimate leg breaker. The gap between the ramp and the stairs will trap feet. Why a smarter city gets to be so mean on lower body parts?

  • Crease

    Health and safety is ruining everyones fun. People walk in to street signs etc and thats funny!
    Try looking up from your mobile phone once in a while and you might avoid these so called hazards.

  • ben

    Interesting point.. Will "smarter cities" lead to increasingly stupid people that find them too difficult to navigate?

  • rwordplay

    Smart, at least on the surface. Go deeper see a generation of people come to depend on corporate largess, when their Cities and governments fail them.