• 06.04.13

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.

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.