John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The pinnacle of bus-shelter advertising madness has officially been reached with this pastry-scented campaign in London.
Sick of funky bus shelters that reek of potatoes or sing at you? Then just lay down your Internets and shake your head slowly, resting assured that this new shelter is as unbearably wacky as you can imagine.
It dispenses free cakes. What's more, it smells like a cake, thanks to a button that sprays out clouds of "tempting aroma." Nineteen bus shelters in London have gotten the pastry treatment, and for this we can all thank outdoor-advertising specialist JCDecaux and a couple other marketing firms who should all be ashamed of themselves.
Here's how it works. You walk up to a princess-pink poster for Mr. Kipling's baked goods and slap it or poke it or something. In response, it coughs up a plastic-wrapped slice of the company's angel food cake. You can push a button and bask in a field of cake scent, if you so wish. Then you either move along or repeat this process until you feel sick, like a lab rat testing the limits of its pleasure center, although there is a mechanism that prevents the machine from dispensing more than one cake a minute, a la a morphine drip.
The ad campaign is being fronted by British actress Joanna Page, although with her build you get the feeling she's not a Mr. Kipling's customer. The campaign's message is that modern people should eat their cake "on the go," meaning, I guess, spraying crumbs all over a bus seat while taking a bumpy road to the office.