Bus Stop Bench Project

The Anti-Advertising Agency and Packard Jennings’ Oakland based Bus Stop Bench Ad Project has 2 parts. For the first part, the Agency created a survey to poll residents in the neighborhoods surrounding 10 Oakland bus stops regarding what advertising tactics they found most bothersome in their neighborhoods. Then Jennings developed targeted illustrations for each neighborhood and the team installed the work.

A virtual tour of the benches

Details of the illustrations

Survey Postcards

Hundreds of these postcards were used to gather data on concerns in the area.

Gallery Installation

This work was shown at Catharine Clark Gallery in April 2006 and included a Bus Tour organized by the gallery.

Installation view at Catharine Clark Gallery

Installation view at Catharine Clark Gallery

In 2009 the bench was shown at Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles.

Project Background

As an artist who works regularly with problematic social issues, Packard Jennings has had an adversarial relationship with advertising for a long time. Working with the Anti-Advertising Agency Jennings created a series of anti-advertisements for Oakland bus benches based on manipulative tactics commonly used by advertisers, such as: the manufacturing of desire, using fear, targeting children, and racial and sexual stereotyping.

The artwork address’s community concerns about advertising in our public spaces. Members of each neighborhood contributed to the anti-ads by filling out a brief survey on advertising’s tactics. This survey was taken door to door within a one-block radius of each target bus stop. The results were charted, and the largest average concern dictated which anti-ad was placed at that area’s bus stop.

Bios of Packard Jennings and Steve Lambert can be seen on our staff page.

You Don’t Need It Stickers

As a side project, the AAA produced a thousands of “You Don’t Need It” stickers given away for free. This side project exploded and was featured in several magazines and on NPR’s Bryant Park Project.

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14 Comments

  1. irefusetostopthinking
    Posted May 21, 2006 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Excellent. I really love this and I hope you guys keep it up. Maybe it will make people actually…..GASP!!!!!!!!!!!!!………THINK!!!!

    I could go off into a long tirade about how the morons in this country have lost the ability to distinguish between want and true need and that how they are so easily mezerized into believing they need something that they actually have no use for at all…..but I won’t. I think this project does so in a much more succinct way.

  2. Toby
    Posted May 30, 2006 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    wow they’re hilarious.

    Although personally I would have gone for just replacing them with christian aid signboards..nobodies going to want to be seen tearing them down.

    A good artistic effort, luckily in england they don’t advertise on bus stop benches so were fine.

  3. Pat J
    Posted June 7, 2006 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I especially like the “You don’t need it” benches next to other advertising. Nicely done.

  4. human
    Posted January 14, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful.
    I’ve nearly reached saturation with this whole selling and being sold to sham. Advertisements are the worst.
    Beauty and Truth are so much more valid.
    Thank you!

    P.S. And no, please no more X-tian aid signboards. They’re a wholly different flavor of odious. The last thing I need is a side of condescension & manipulation with my greed sandwich.

  5. Business Owner
    Posted December 29, 2008 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Wow, loony toons you all are. If I didn’t know better I would think this was a Marxist website. I refer you all to http://www.marxists.org, from there you can read “Wealth of Nations” Ha

  6. Posted December 29, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    @Business Owner, what’s wrong with Marx?

  7. Hill
    Posted April 9, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    By posting up signs, billboards, guerilla messages, and having this website, aren’t you guys just pretty much advertising your message and your beliefs for the world to see?

  8. Posted April 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    @Hill: please see our FAQ

  9. Posted March 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    However biased I may be by my time as an “online marketer” – good advertising shouldn’t affect you if it’s not meant for you (if you’re not interested in what the ad says, move on). However, if you are interested in the product/service then it just informed you on how to obtain something either A. you want or B. you need. It’s not the advertisers’ fault if you can’t control yourself from spending too much on your wants. Would your time not be better spent on teaching people self control and how to move past instant gratification rather than on eliminating revenue generators that help fund things that might otherwise require tax dollars?

    • Posted March 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      How can one not be affected? How can one unsee an ad?

      Why should private companies be allowed to use public space? Why should governments turn to the private sector to pay for public services?

      • Posted March 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
        1. How has an ad affected you negatively? (honest question, I’m interested in this stuff.) 2. Because governments (everywhere) are broke and can’t afford these “public services” you speak of. Do you want your kid to not have good textbooks and technology at their public school just so McDonald’s can’t put their logo on their football field? IMHO it just seems more useful to spend time teaching your kid to eat healthy instead of spending time removing the logo from the field (while your kid is at McDonald’s chomping away). Govt’s need money – corporations need eyes – eyes buy stuff so their govt’s can provide other stuff … makes sense to me (as long as some of that money protects places like national parks then there will be public places w/o private graffiti for you to enjoy)
        • Posted March 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Permalink
          1. read this. Think less about how ads affect you negatively, as everyone believes they’re immune from the effects of advertising, and think about how it affects culture. This is one example.

          2. start reading these to see how government makes bad deals. Then read about ad creep, and see how ads make their way into the national parks.

          Then keep reading!

  10. Posted December 7, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    I want freedom from the bombardment and visual assault of constant propaganda slathered all over my city and the continual manipulation of the public, especially the kids.
    It’s ugly and it makes people stupid

  11. Posted March 2, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I know this was long overdue, but I finally went back and read up on the reasons why you (and this website) cares so much about public ads. Here is my take: 6 Ways That Advertising Negatively Affects Us. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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  • Project Brief

    The Anti-Advertising Agency polled Oakland neighborhoods on what bothered them about advertising. Using this data, they created responded with new content for bus bench ads reflecting the neighborhood's concerns.
  • Collaborators

  • Press and Exhibitions

    • Catharine Clark Gallery
    • Charlie James Gallery
    • National Public Radio - Bryant Park Project “Dialog Over Public Advertising Gets Sticky”