Avengers Hit Benches

In a bid to fill Staples Center seats for its upcoming season, L.A.’s arena football team is placing life-size cutouts of people holding “Need two Avenger tix” signs on some 5,000 bus-stop benches.

The effort kicks off this week, tied to the L.A. Avengers’ opening day on April 19. It was created by Mendelsohn/Zien Advertising in L.A. Agency principal Richard Zien said he is eager to repeat the success of last year’s controversial tease-and-reveal billboards, which included a number of sexually provocative themes.

Zien said the new campaign represents the largest and most elaborate ad use of bus-stop benches ever. Each bench, he said, typically costs about $135 a month for placements.

Though Zien would not comment on the budget, sources said it is expected to reach about $3 million. TV spots and prints ads will support.

“This is a client that needed a high degree of visibility and frequency in a short period of time,” said Zien.

He said the shop settled on using the reinforced cardboard cutouts—there are five different “people”—after exploring the possibility of using mannequins and even real people.

“We were thinking of getting … out-of-work actors to sit on the benches for $7 a hour,” Zien said. “The beauty of the cutout is it doesn’t actually take up a seat. You can still sit on the bench—although it may be a little weird for some people.”

Avengers vp of marketing Valery Lindeman-Shaw said she was impressed with the concept. “We had a bus driver stop and ask the cutout, ‘Are you getting on?’ ” she said.