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Advertising for 'Smarter Cities'
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising has come under scrutiny about how it relates to the city environment. There have been growing campaigns against advertisers placing billboards across cityscapes, to the point where a city in South America even banned outdoor advertising in city limits.

Elsewhere, anti-advertising groups are defacing or replacing outdoor advertisements and billboards with their own, citing that outdoor adspace belongs to the people, therefore the people can do what they like to the space.

It doesn't quite act like that. However, if the public is displeased with how unfunctional outdoor advertising is, advertisers should take note.

Let's find space to compromise.

IBM and Ogilvy France did just that. In IBM's campaign, "People for Smarter Cities," the two groups collaborated on a different kind of outdoor piece. They added a functional curve to the posters and boards, creating a sort of ambient element to them. In the spot below, you will see the ads being sat on while people tie their shoes, using the ad to roll a piece of luggage up the steps, and gathering under an ad in order to get out of the rain.

Advertising combined with city planning. Not bad.

Of course this type of advertising will have your naysayers. But this added functionality does create a benefit to city residents; it creates convenience. No longer could people complain about the lack of ramps or benches in the city if advertising is contributing, with the nodding head of city officials. That is what business is supposed to do in the first place: make our lives easier. This was a good idea, and we'll be interested to see if others follow IBM's example.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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