A few weeks ago I wrote Steal this Chair, Please about an experiment by Blu Dot design and their agency Mono to see if people would “steal” chairs left on the streets of New York.

The results of the campaign were summarized yesterday in this interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal.

The purpose of the campaign was to put into practice Blu Dot’s philosophy of having great design reach as many people as possible.

In this case, by placing chairs around New York and hoping people would steal them. The chairs were equipped with GPS tracking devices and the folks working on the project hid out in vans and filmed the “chair stealer’s”

Then they followed them home and for the reward of a second chair asked them to tell their stories on camera.

Some people refused to participate, but others agreed. Those who did, offer an interesting glance into different New York lives and the cultural phenomenon of curb mining.

On Monday I went to the premier of the 10 minute documentary at the Blu Dot Soho store. You can see the film and learn more about the experiment by clicking here.

Overall, I think it was a cool campaign that certainly met the objective of raising awareness of Blu Dot and the Real Good Chair.

Although I might be a bit more wary next time of picking up those unwanted items in front of my neighbor’s curb …

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Would you have stolen one of these chairs?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. This reminds me of the VW “Fun Theory” campaign http://www.thefuntheory.com/piano-staircase. It creates virality, and the use of secret cameras to film unsuspecting people – like “America’s Funniest Videos”- is one part of these efforts that seems to help them to be shared. If virality is the only goal, then awareness should be high. How will that translate into action, revenue or value and for whom?

    The anthropology of these videos is interesting, and the social behavior it reveals is novel. I guess I am missing the link to why that makes me buy Blu Dot or use Mono. What do the companies do to leverage the insights? What does a consumer now think about Blu Dot? At least I knew that VW was trying to be a fun company.

    I’m not sure how you market the chair – or the company – more smartly now because it was stolen by curb scavengers who are described as “stealers”? Does it make either more appealing to the other folks who walked by and didn’t steal it, now they know the chair exists through the video about scavengers?

  2. @Leslie thanks for sharing this video. It’s fabulous! (And I’d never seen it).It does definitely build into Volksgwagen’s brand message as a fun alternative.

    As for the Blu Dot experiment, I think you raise a valid point.

    For a very small company trying to break through with little budget, I think the first goal- which I believe was met if you look at the press coverage- was to get awareness.

    The second important question you raise is awareness “as what” and how does this translate to sales.

    My own interpretation is a design company who brings a sense of fun to design (vs. a lot of their competition which takes itself too seriously) and creates design that is accessible and everyone wants.

    I think what they do next to build on this is critical. And it will be crucial to see if this translates to sales and not just awareness.

    Thanks for commenting. And I love your blog. http://gearheadgal.net/

  3. I think the core concept behind this is to engage your brand with a unique consumer behavior. Therefore, the brand / item becomes a story in your home.

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