David Blecken
Jun 30, 2017

An ice cream brand designs a bench to spread happiness

Lotte wants Japanese people to look up from their smartphones, and maybe even buy one of its ice creams.

We know that habitually gazing down at smartphones can cause neck disorders. But a new campaign suggests it can also make us unhappy.

With ice cream being all about small moments of happiness, Lotte (with help from Dentsu) has devised the ‘So Happy Bench’ project to snap people out of their downward-facing stupour and promote its ice cream brand So.

The Happy Bench is designed to give slightly when people sit on it, thereby tilting their gaze upwards. The idea is endorsed by Professor Takashi Maeno, a happiness researcher at Keio University. He says studies show that looking upwards can make people feel happier.

The bench, developed by Eisuke Tachikawa, a social product designer, has so far been distributed to 10 locations in Japan. They include shared workspaces and companies such as L’Oréal which are looking to improve their working practices based on staff wellbeing. A spokesperson for Dentsu, Satoshi Takahashi, said they will consider making additional benches if companies ask for them.

Campaign’s view: People may be inclined to dismiss this as a PR stunt, but while it is indeed a stunt, we like its simplicity and that it acts on a basic social insight to convey clearly what the brand is all about. In the end, it’s a fun, presumably low-cost initiative that’s difficult to argue with. We don't know if it will directly lead to more ice cream, sales, but it should at least inspire people to notice their surroundings a bit more, and planning authorities to create better outdoor furniture.

We certainly like this better than the last time we remember a bench having a prominent role in a marketing campaign: See Cadbury's new OOH campaign lets you test out chocolate textures with your bum.

Campaign Japan

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