By “hot air” I don’t mean bluster, bravado or lack of substance, I mean LITERALLY hot air – as in from a heater.  In one of the more unique marketing strategies I’ve heard of in a while, Kraft, makers of Stove Top stuffing, is installing heaters in bus shelters at 10 locations around the city of Chicago.  This will be the first time in American history that heat has been used as part of bus shelter advertising.

The ads will feature a poster reading “Cold Provided By Winter. Warmth Provided by Us.”  The New York Times has a rendering of what these bus shelter ads will look like once installed:

In my opinion this is a terrific marketing idea.  While the cost of installing these 10 ads/heaters will run about $100,000, the value of the media coverage they will get for such an innovative marketing idea will probably be 50 times the cost.  Not to mention, who likes freezing their ass off waiting for the bus? If my regular bus stop was one of the ten selected, and I got to be warm while waiting for the bus this winter, I’d be damn thankful to Stove Top stuffing. Maybe even thankful enough to buy a few boxes.

Ellen Thompson, a brand manager for Stove Top, comments on the new campaign, making the connection between warmth and the Stove Top experience:

Stove Top as a brand has a great equity in the area of warmth…This is an opportunity to expand into a multisensory experience

Indeed. For some lucky commuters in Chicago, Stove Top will no longer just be associated with a mental feeling of warmth, they will actually physically be providing warmth  As part of the campaign, Stove Top will also be promoting their new Quick Cups Instant Stuffing by passing out samples at some of these bus shelters on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the next three weeks.

For a list of the ten bus shelters that will be featuring this promotion, click HERE.

Update: As several of my co-workers point out, won’t these heaters make these bus stops a magnet for homeless people? If this was your bus stop, you might appreciate the warmth from the heater, but you might not be happy if your bus shelter was suddenly teeming with the homeless.  Also, will the homeless population of Chicago become on-the-street, word-of-mouth evangelists for Stove Top stuffing, providers of winter warmth?

Update #2: I’ve got a So Good goodie pack that I will send to any of my Chicago readers who can send me a photo of one of these bus shelters.

11 Responses

  1. Maxie

    I can’t believe Lemmonex doesn’t like stovetop! I freakin love that stuff. I’d hang out with 100 homeless people if I could get free stovetop at the bus stop every morning.

    Reply
  2. Andres

    Yes, wouldn’t it be terrible if people who have to sleep in the 10F temperature right now loitered around “your” bus-stop.

    If anything these are the people that need these heaters the most. It’s sad to hear an attitude that is so afraid of seeing the injustice of our society that he or she would rather hide the people ravaged by it.

    Reply
  3. Eick

    Actually yes, it would be terrible if these heaters caused tons of homeless people to loiter around heavily trafficked bus stops. It would be a tragedy if people have to rely on heaters at a bus stop provided by a marketing agency rather than have a warm and safe, church or government run shelter to go to.

    It’s hardly an issue of not wanting to see the injustice of our society. The question is, why would it be a good thing for the homeless to flock to a bus stop with a Stove Top heater installed? There are so many people that suffer in our country, and having them crowd around a 3 week promotion for a consumer product to stay warm is hardly the answer to a massive social problem like homelessness.

    Reply
  4. moon

    Given a choice between seeing homeless people cozying up to a warm ad or frozen to death in an unheated shelter, I will pick the heated one. I would rather see them in somewhere better than that either way, somewhere with a real roof and food. Poverty makes one very innovative in their choices, though, and if I were homeless with nowhere better to go, I know which one I would pick. Even so, I find this an interesting idea, as Stove Top makes their living on ideas like “warmth” and “family” and “holidays”, trying as hard as they do to get people to think of stuffing as an everyday food, stuffing is still pretty entrenched in my own mind as a complement to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here they are promoting individual sides to make it easier to enjoy a hot lunch in the office instead of some sandwich, and the heater reinforces the idea for me that warm food is a good thing to enjoy in the winter.

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  5. moon

    hm….maybe it will provide the city of Chicago with an idea to provide “warmth stops” wherever they have a little space to put one. Building more shelters would be a better idea, of course, but part of the problem with homeless on the street is because some of them are mentally ill and trust no one to help them, some of them are hard to take in from the cold, and then of course many are out on the street because there simply isn’t room or funding for them in shelters. At the very least, attracting them by offering a warm spot may make it easier for the city to get a better idea how many there actually are so as to provide outreach for whatever programs may be available. Homeless people aside, in a city as notorious for cold and windy weather as Chicago is, I can see warmth stops in some neighborhoods being taken advantage of by such as tourists, people who walk and bike to work, and smokers booted out of their offices at break time…It certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see such spots funded by advertising….

    Reply

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