Friday, 1 May 2015


Like it or not, benchvertising is coming to a bench near you.

Eddie: I don't like it.

Eddie is my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. 

Eddie: This is my publicity photo organised by my agent.

So it looks like you're already familiar with the whole Mad Men advertising thing.

Eddie. Yes. But I don't know anything about benchvertising.  

Benchvertising is easy. All you need is: 1) a bench and 2) something you want to sell.

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Eddie: Benchvertising is nothing new though, is it?

True. Benches have always been up and running for advertising. 

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In the United States there are 80 million benches for rent.

Eddie: That's 80 million benches just ripe for selling you something you didn't know you wanted.

That might even include a bench.

Eddie: Or a product called Bench. Which isn't actually a bench even though it says it is. 

Golly, Eddie, you make it sound complicated.

Eddie: So is benchvertising just an American thing? 

No, benchvertizing is global. 

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The Athens bench was the winner in a competition to design a city bench. I first saw it at  

Eddie: Someone actually spends their time looking at stuff about chairs. 

Guess what they used when this telecoms company in Laos wanted to advertise?

Eddie: Looks like they made a beeline for benches.

And in Poland they've fallen for benchvertising too.

In Moscow they got their computer benches out.

Eddie: They're not tablets, that's for sure.

But benchvertising isn't high tech. In fact, most benchvertising is quite straightforward. 

Eddie: I get it. There is a bench and on the bench the Mad Men tell you what they want you to do. 

Drink Cheerwine. On all occasions. It's as simple as that.

No, actually it's even simpler.

You've got the bench. 

You've got the name of the thing you want to sell. 

Eddie: You've got yourself a bench ad.

Anything at all can be advertised this way. Green tea . . .

. . . or caskets . . .

. . . or holidays. 

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Even oxygen. 

Eddie: How much do I have to pay for two molecules of oxygen? 

Forget that now. We're off to the bus stop. 

Good benchvertising can turn a bus stop into a sauna . . . 

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. . . or bring temperatures down to freezing.

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On benches all over the world advertisers try to convince us that whatever it is, we need it. 

Eddie: It's all about money.

But whatever it is that's being benchvertised, do you need it?

Here The Anti-advertising Agency used bus stop benchvertising to promote the opposite message.

Eddie: So whatever it is, I don't need it. 

They think there is too much hype about consumerism. They would prefer to see no hype.

Eddie: You've got your messages confused here. It's hypo, not hype. 

That's right, Eddie. Hype is an advertising word. 

Eddie: And Hypo is a bank in Austria. 

They're easily confused. 

But consumers are very media-savvy these days.

Eddie: Yes. I've been looking at advertising since I was a baby.

Depending on how much TV you watch, how much internet use, and how much you're out and about, you may see 3,000 to 5,000 ads per day. 

Eddie: Very few of these will get my attention though. 

True. But these admen are cheeky monkeys and Benchvertizing ups the stakes of clever advertising. 

See if you can guess what is being advertised here.

Eddie: Give me a break.

Right! Have a break. Have a KitKat. 

Or here.

Eddie: Hangers on?

This is guerilla marketing at its most subtle. 

Eddie: Do you mean gorilla? 

No, actually I mean, Aguliera marketing. The hangers on this bench were used to launch Christina Aguiliera's new perfume back in 2004. 

Eddie: Sometimes perfume is the only thing you need to wear.

So you were paying attention! 

And here are more hangers, this time in Vancouver.

Eddie: What is it with benches and hangers?

You see what I mean, Eddie. Advertising nowadays comes in many guises. We're not even aware of it sometimes. 

Eddie: Is there any advertising on Benchsite?

No. Benchsite is entirely non-commercial.

Eddie: What about product placement? I've seen one or two products placed on Benchsite. 

You have not. Benchsite would never place a product.

Eddie: Do the words sweet and corn ring a bell?

This is Colonel Maize waving hello from the autumn Corn Bench. 

Eddie: The fact that you got the product upside down is beside the point. This is blatant advertising.

It is not. You can't even see the brand name. But if it bothers you, I'll show The Colonel on the Cob Bench instead.

I hope we can move on now. 

Bus stop benches are often used for benchvertising. In the parlance of the mad ad world they're called Transit Shelter Media.  

Eddie: So this woman is in a transit shelter waiting for transit. She seems to be ignoring the media. 

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 Yes, but people waiting for buses can be unwitting actors in benchvertising.

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Eddie: I'm not sure that an Afro suits this fellow.

Does this woman know that the bench registers the weight of the person who sits on it? 

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Maybe not. 

Eddie: When everyone finds out she weighs 68 kilos will she register for the Fitness First gym? They're the sponsors of the ad. 

Unilever, the maker of Slim Fast diet drinks, had a similar weighty message when they donated this, um, slim bench in 2006.

Did you see what I had to do here? The image and the bench itself are so slim that I had to make the caption very, very small.  

Weighing scales, collapsing benches, benches too slim to sit on; some people are uncomfortable with this kind of in-your-face advertising. 

Eddie: You can't escape it. While you wait at the bus stop, the transit shelter media reminds you how fat you are. It's enough to send you out for some retail therapy.

On the other hand, IKEA has taken benchvertizing in bus stops to the heights of comfort. 

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Eddie: It's great to come across an IKEA sitting room when I'm waiting for the Number 7. I can put up my feet, make myself at home.

Not so comfortable is this reminder about homelessness. The plaque on this bench says Don't let this place be a home.

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As we've seen on Benchsite previously, a bench can be a home.

Eddie: To prevent this happening, some cities remove their benches.

And some (are you listening, London?) put up spikes to stop people sleeping on benches.  

Eddie: They've nailed it. You wouldn't get a good night's sleep here.

Vancouver, British Columbia is a rainy city like London and they've taken a more compassionate approach to homelessness. RainCity Housing and their agency, Spring Advertising, have used benchvertising to bring home the message that for some people, a bench is a bedroom.

Eddie: The back of the bench lifts up to create shelter for someone who might need it. 

Yes. There's also the address of where RainCity's better shelter can be found. 

Eddie: Looks like many public service messages can be cleverly conveyed through benchvertising. 

If you're fond of wasting water, this Denver Water bench gives a strong warning.

 This bench in Vancouver prepares you for anything - even flooding.

Eddie: Very useful reminder of global warming. I'm going to grab a jacket and be first into the lifeboat.

It's women and children first, Eddie. Remember that.

And here's some benchvertising which is trying to sell a simple idea; kindness costs you nothing.

Eddie: OK, but does benchvertising work?

Good question.

This beer advertiser in Madagascar obviously thinks it does. 

Eddie: The more red benches, the merrier. 

Yes, studies have shown that the more something is repeated, the more we believe it. 

Eddie: I'm not lovin' it. 

Anyway, a lot of advertising is online now.

Some advertisers think benchvertising has had its day.

Eddie: So this is benchvertising telling benchvertisers to advertise on the internet. Wow, this really is confusing. 

But there's no doubt that benchvertising can be effective. 

Eddie: A little birdie tells me that benchvertising can be tweeted. 

Indeed. Benchvertising images can and do go virile.

You can't tell what will happen but, like Nivea's cellulite bench, you take the rough with the smooth.

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Good-bye cellulite! 

Eddie: I don't think primates have cellulite.

You're not a target audience then, are you?

Ad agency DDB in New Zealand went one further in advertising for a retail store called Superette in Auckland.

Here's the bench. 

And the stamp. 

And the girls sitting on the bench with bare legs.

Yes, the inevitable happens.

Some people are uncomfortable about this kind of advertising and the questions it raises about rights to privacy.

Eddie: Just by sitting on a bench you can become an unwitting carrier of an advertising message.

Well, that's one way of looking at it.

Eddie: And I thought benchvertising was such a simple idea. 

You know what, Eddie, this has got me thinking. Nearly all the benches here on Benchsite are potential benchvertising sites.

Eddie: But you've always said Benchsite is non-commercial.

It is, but maybe after all, there's some cash in my future?

image by Thomas R Machnitzki at

If, for example, I advertise here . . .

. . . I could use my attractive Café Noir bench to sell either café or noir.

Eddie: Maybe not. 

Probably better to use my Don't Be Sheepish bench to sell wool.

Eddie: It wouldn't be the first time your readers have been fleeced. 

Or better still, I could use my Mozzarella Boy to sell holidays to Italy.

Eddie: Mama Mia! 

I don't even need to write anything, do I? 

Nothing says Italy like a mozzarella boy on a cannelloni bench.


On Benchsite I make every effort to trace the original source of photographs and usually I manage to do this. For Benchvertising I have followed thousands of links to images, products, advertisers, list sites, photographers, wikimedia, and all the usual routes I take to sleuth out a source. However, I'm taking a slightly different approach to referencing the images this time. Wherever possible, I reference as usual, to the photographer, designer or rightful owner of the image. But in many cases the images of benchvertising benches appear all over the internet to the extent that it's difficult to trace them back. In this case I have referenced the place where I saw the image which, in most cases, is one of the many List Sites. Some of these are better than others in their attempts to reference their material. The Coloribus advertising archive has been especially helpful.

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner from Wellington, New Zealand is a keen bench photographer. She travels widely and lots of her work has appeared on Benchsite before. The first photo of the story here is a lovely black and white photograph of a Bench dot bench, photographed in Trier, Germany in 2010. It's interesting that the Bench. brand has one of those logos which is probably better known than the products themselves. 

The second image of a bench drawing is something I've had for a long time. I think it may have been a logo from a marketing company but I'm not finding it now.

They used to say Things Go Better with Coke and Coca Cola is, of course, one of the most well-known brands of all time and the Coke logo is found all over the world. The vintage Coke bench was photographed in Tokyo in 2010 by Dave Hill  Dave is a web developer from Leatherland in Surrey. 

Nike Run benchvertising is ubiquitous on the internet. Nike benches with the instantly-recognised logo have been photographed all over the place. The bench with the missing seat is Corra (Run) in Brazil. That was a campaign by agency Saatchi and Saatchi in 2011. There was a Nike bench ad in Johannesburg in 2009 by the agency Ogilvy SA. And the Wet Paint bench ad by BBDO in Buenos Aires was also seen in 2003.  The Nike bench ads appear in just about every benchvertising list going. 

The Bench for Rent is one of many benches in the album of the Bisayan Lady, who lives in San Diego. She has a full bench album and also lots of signs - another favourite of mine.  

The BENCH bench was photographed in Buchanan Street, Glasgow in 2008. The photographer is Steve Gore, who has a photostream full of all things Scotland. Scottish weddings, Armed Forces Day, stunning beaches, The Edinburgh Festival - it's all going on in Scotland.

I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I am in any way sponsored by Bench dot or any other company. Far from it. The stuff in the bags are my very own purchases from the Bench dot outlet store. None of them fit me and they are all the wrong colours but never mind, they bear the Bench message and that's what's important from a benchvertising point of view. You can find out more about my bench shopping habits and a disastrous Black Friday.  

The black and white Athens Benchmark bench comes from the 2010 Athens Benchmark competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire and supported by design journalists from  The winning benches from the competition can be seen at   For lots more lovely Greek benches, see and indeed benches across Europe 

Beeline is the local phone service provider in Vientaine, Laos. In April 2014 Shankar, the photographer, found their signs everywhere - on lamp posts, on tuktuks, on shop billboards - everywhere. Just as well he made a beeline for his camera then.

The red bench which is tilted in the middle is in St Rynek, Poznan and was photographed in July 2013 by MOs810. It seems to be advertising Lizamy Ludzi. Ludzi means people but I don't know what Lizamy is, nor how many Lizamy People there are who might want to sit on a collapsed red bench.  We haven't done Polish benches yet here on Benchsite, but we've certainly done red ones.

The two computer benches are from Moscow in 2009. They're in the photostream of Cea, who is from the Netherlands and is otherwise knows as Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology. I have no idea what this means but there's some weird and wonderful stuff in the photostream

The Cheerwine bench is an old favourite on Flickr for bench photographers. This photo is by Todd Martin at  Todd is a software geek from Cary, North Carolina and he was cheered by the Cheerwine bench whilst visiting the North Carolina Transport Museum in Spencer in 2012. 

The starkly beautiful photograph of the Pepsi bench was photographed in 2006. The photographer is smartfat, who lives in Tokyo and is well known on Flickr for his photographs of negative space. The albums are fascinating - whether bricks or  brooms, smartfat can make an artistic photo out of anything.

The red Bench ad bench was photographed by Hamish Reid in 2009 in Oakland, California. Hamish is another Photographer of the Familiar. He has a website about Jingletown, and a Flickr photo album too.  

The bench advertising Oishi green tea involves President Obama and the Pope in a strange juxtaposition of bottled drinks. It was photographed by Frantisek Fuka in 2009 and as he's from Prague in the Czech Republic, I'm guessing that's where the bench is.  My Czech isn't very good but fuxoft tells me that the ad suggests that Oishi green tea is a new beginning, the first real tea without conservants and colourings. And the bubbles say It's only Oishi for me - For me tooThe  Oishi Group is a Thai company and some of their online tea ads have apparently gone viral. 

The benchvertising for caskets is in Mansfield, Ohio, photographed by Tom Hart in 2014.  It's one of the nearly 32,000 photos in the album of the Northeast Ohio photographers. Tom lives in Ashland, Ohio and is kind of a film fanatic. He's not sure why. 

The ski bench is from Alberta Travel in Canada. The advertising agency was
I saw it on Flickr in the enormous advertising album of Arturo de Albornoz, who is from DF, Mexico.  And speaking of Mexican benches, there's a whole fiesta of them at

The O2 bench refers not to oxygen but to shampoo, though no doubt oxygen is being sold and might even be advertised on a bench somewhere. Mike Coghlan saw this bench in New Bagan, Mandalay, Myanmar when he visited in 2013. He has a whole album of  Myanmar and also a whole album of benches. They've appeared many times on Benchsite.  

As saunas are a Scandinavian thing, you won't be surprised that the sauna bus stop is from agency Volt AB in Stockholm 

Open Happiness at the bus stop is a scene from 2013 where real Coke bottles were situated in a mock-up cold refrigerator. The advertising agency is McCann Erickson in Istanbul, Turkey  Interested in Turkish benches? We got 'em here on Benchsite. 

Josef Pinlac loves New York City. His Somebody's Watching bench stacked with money (and a pair of eyes) was taken in NYC in 2009 and his photostream is full of joys of living in the city. Looks like one of them was the Polar Bear swim at Coney Island on January 1, 2014. Ohhhh, I wish I'd been there.

You don't need it is a 2006 project in Oakland, California. It's by The Anti-Advertising Agency, whose mission is to call into question the purpose and effects of advertising in public space. Through constructive parody and gentle humor the Agency’s campaigns ask passersby to critically consider the role and strategies of today’s marketing media, as well as alternatives for the public arena. By co-opting the tools and structures used by the advertising and public relations industries, The Anti-Advertising Agency's work de-normalizes “out-of-home” advertising and increases awareness of the public’s power to contribute to a more democratically-based outdoor environment. 

The No Hypo bench is an example of public private partnership whereby a bench is sponsored by a bank. In 2011 Nö Hypo sponsored this bench in Oberwaltersdorf, Lower Austria. The photographer is Herzi Pinki at,_Oberwaltersdorf.jpg?uselang=en-gb  If you're into alpine benches, Miggy and Mungo and I got high on alpine benches last summer. 

The KitKat bench was photographed at  Johannesburg Zoo in 2012. The photographer is rckr88 at  He's a well travelled photographer with albums full of delights. 

PW Baker lives in Philadelphia, where he photographs a lot of street life, such as the red gorilla bench covered in snow way back in 2007.  For more snowy and frozen benches see

The bench with hangers is an example of guerilla marketing, otherwise known as aguerrllia marketing. Back in January 2004 it was the Israeli launch campaign for Christina Aguilera's perfume. The message? Sometimes it's all you need to wear

What is it with hangers on benches? In 2014 Ted McGrath photographed the hangers on a memorial bench in Vancouver. Seems to be a benchvertising message about solar energy.    Ted is from Rocky Mountain House in Alberta and now lives in Vancouver. He's been there, done that. 

Kernel Maize is an autumn kind of guy. He first appeared in autumn 2013 when we looked at a lot of woolly warm benches. Then last fall a lot of things were falling. The Kernel fell in love with a deviant carrot and almost roasted his cobs. You can read all about it at

The official name of the bench advertisement with the hair is called Black music all the way. It was a finalist at the Cannes Lions Outdoor and is by advertising agency Dentsu, in São Paulo, Brazil

The Fitness First ad is by the N=5 advertising agency in Amsterdam. It raised a fair amount of controversy, where some people considered it a breach of privacy. I saw it at  6

The Slim Fast diet bench is very slim indeed. Only very slim people who have benefited from drinking Slim Fast can fit on it; well, that's the message anyway. The ad was by ad agency McCann Erickson, Frankfurt, back in 2006. The Slim Fast bench appears all over the place on the internet, and in this list

The 1970s-style shoppers are advertising the Marler Stern shopping centre in Ruhr, Germany. The photographer is Werner Wittersheim, who is from Wuppertal.

There was a time when you might find yourself at a bus stop in a comfy IKEA living room. I saw the IKEA blue sofa living room at   This was an ad by agency Deutsch US in 2006. The other sitting room, the one with the couch, was photographed by J Hayne, aka Foxtongue, in Vancouver in 2005   This is one of those ads that has been very hard to trace. On a forum it was said this IKEA ad was at the Green Bridge in Vilinius, Lithuania and that someone stole the couch. I have also seen this ad linked with an ad agency operating in Benelux, France and Switzerland.  

Hinz and Kunzt is an advertising agency in Hamburg, Germany. In 2007 they created a campaign to raise awareness about homelessness. Don't let this place be a home makes the point very well I think. I saw the ad at  

You can't have benches without thinking about who's on them and why. Benches aren't neutral: they can be social or anti-social. But of course not everyone would agree which is which. Friend or foe? The Benchsite debate about benches goes on.

Daniel Lobo is an independent consultant, artist and urbanista who understands street language. He has photographed a great number of urban benches which raise uncomfortable questions about social and anti-social public space. The bench covered in boxes is one such image.

The vandal-proof bench with nails and the bench with no back or seat are two photos taken by gynti46 from Magdeburg in Germany. gynti has a varied photostream which includes quite a few benches, not all of them hospitable  

In 2014 Vancouver’s Spring Advertising created a campaign for RainCity Housing that uses city bus benches to make a simple,  bold, statement about homelessness. RainCity Housing provides specialised accommodation and support services for homeless people in the rainy Canadian city, for example they have set up instant pop-up shelters that take the form of an ordinary park bench. To promote RainCity's work, Spring Advertising modified each bus bench. During the day, it's a normal bench which says simply This is a bus bench. But at night, the bench is lit with glow-in-the-dark paint and bears the message This is a bedroom. Another design says Find shelter here and when the back of the bench is lifted up, it says Find a home here, listing the address of a RainCity refuge. Seen on

Sukle Advertising in Denver created a high profile campaign for Denver Water back in 2006. They used benches to highlight water conservation and to remind people to only use what they need.  Their photostream is at  However, these images are all over the internet. I saw them at

Vancouver seems to have some clever benchvertisers. Offsetters is Canada’s leading provider of sustainability and carbon-management solutions. They help organizations and individuals understand, reduce and offset their environmental impacts.  Offsetters sponsored a campaign in downtown Vancouver campaign to raise awareness of global warming. How did they do this? They highlighted flooding by placing life vests under benches and even having lifeguard stands around the city.  

Try to be kinder than is necessary is from the book Peter Pan by JM Barrie. Written in 1902, Peter Pen and Wendy are among the best-loved characters in fiction and this book bench was a hit when the Books About Town book benches appeared all around London in the summer of 2014  And of course, we've got stacks of books on Benchsite, and some book benches too.  A collection of 50 literary-inspired book benches celebrated writers with a London connection and raised money for the National Literacy Trust. The bench artist is Sian Storey and the Peter Pan book bench was located in Holborn. It was photographed by Martin Pettitt.

Does advertising work? The old joke goes that only half of advertising works. The question is, which half? Does benchvertising work? It just did, according to this bench. You're looking at it, aren't ya?  The photo is by Matthew K, taken on Melrose Avenue in LA back in 2007. Matt lives in Vienna.

The park full of red benches is in Antsirabe, Madagascar and the benches are advertising THB, which locals will know as Three Horses Beer. Antony Stanley photographed them back in 2009. He's from Gloucester in the UK.   If you like horse benches, 2014 was The Year of the Horse Bench

The 2014 advertising spend table is from QuickTapSurvey, a mobile survey and data collection platform that lets users create their own surveys and gather responses using tablets without an internet connection. QuickTapSurvey was created by TabbleDabble Inc., based in Toronto, Canada.  I saw the table at

There is a lot of debate about brands these days, and how best to create and promote them. It used to be that print media and TV were the places to put your money for advertising but this has changed. An article in Pando Daily by James Robinson in July 2014 argues for native advertising, which means  it's complicated. For examples see And then as the benchvertising image says - Just advertise on the internet. You can read James Robinson's article at

Chris McNicholl from Co. Down in Northern is a young designer with a passion for being creative, and is driven by an excitement and enthusiasm for producing objects that give pleasure and benefit to others. TweetingSeat is an interactive park bench which is designed to explore the potential for connecting digital and physical communities. The bench logs its usage by uploading images of its users and environment to a live Twitter feed, allowing people to interact with it both in person and virtually. The aim of TweetingSeat is for people and communities to form their own relationship with the object through the way in which they choose to use it. Each time someone sits down, TweetingSeat uploads an image from two cameras to the Twitterfeed. One camera is located on the bench looking at the surrounding space, and another is located nearby looking at the people who use it.   

Good-bye Cellulite. The Nivea bench is very clever benchvertising. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out anything about it. I saw it at  and elsewhere.

Superette is a retail company in New Zealand. In 2011 their agency was DDB New Zealand, whose advertising-on-the-back-of-legs campaign raised lots of smiles and some negative comments too. Did it raise lots of money for Superette?  

Fat Pat's Cash for Junk Cars is a bench (and a company) in Memphis, Tennessee. The bench was photographed in 2013 by Thomas Machnitzki

Advertise Here is a bench from C.G. Megee's Around Town album in 2012. C.G. is a freelancer and Around Town has water pumps, manhole covers, fire hydrants. That's all well and good, but which town? The only clue might be the album of Balboa Park, which is in San Diego, California. Call me a nerdy sleuth but I like this kind of mystery.

The cafe noir bench and the lasagne cannelloni bench, including the Mozarella Boy, appeared on Benchsite way back in 2013 when we were looking at Edible Benches. Are benches edible? They certainly are. You can also see some tasty Italian benches at

The Don't Be Sheepish bench is one of my own designs, an attempt at the simple elegance of Scandinavian design. How well did I do? See this and other Baaaad Sheep benches at

With many thanks to Eddie, my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. When doing a post together we don't usually get along this well. If you've seen much of Benchsite you will know that Eddie has a habit of setting his own agenda with the Benchsite stories. Look what a mess he made great job he did on St. George's Day. And as for my Red benches in February? No wonder I was very grateful seeing red. Last year I had a bit of a break from him as he was in Mexico seeing the fiesta of Mexican benches. Now he's back and his endless primate pictures are often in danger of overwhelming my stories.

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