Steaming Coffee Manhole Cover

Status: Undetermined (but probably real)
imageThis outdoor advertisement transforming a New York City manhole into a steaming cup of coffee was apparently created by Saatchi & Saatchi for their client Folgers. The question is: was this actually done in real life (i.e. were vinyl covers placed on top of manholes), or has the picture simply been photoshopped? The picture itself seems to have been first posted at, and someone has posted a comment there claiming to be from Saatchi & Saatchi and confirming that the coffee-manhole campaign was real. But I can't find anything official from Saatchi & Saatchi in which they take credit for the campaign. Still, my hunch is that it's real.


Posted on Tue Apr 25, 2006


The background of the photo certainly looks like Manhattan. If I had to guess, I'd say it's Greenwich Village or somewhere else in Lower Manhattan. The design of the manhole, however, doesn't look like the typical NYC style and I can't recall seeing a curb which curved around a manhole like that in New York either.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  02:38 AM
it certainly is possible, but i have to say the pictures looked awfully fake.
Posted by Tom  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  03:58 AM
Whether it's a real manhole that has been physically disguised with plastic or whatever to look like a cup of coffee, or a picture that's been touched up somehow, it will be fake looking either way. So the question is whether it's a "real" fake cup of coffee, or a fake fake cup.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  04:13 AM
If it was a real advertising campaign, all I can say is "That is one shitty smelling cup o' Java". :coolgrin:
Posted by Christopher in Joplin, Missouri  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  06:01 AM
perhaps these 'fake' looking pictures originated from a PITCH S&S gave to Folgers? Either it was rejected or the actual manhole cover campaign hasn't started/been documented yet.
Posted by katey  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  06:52 AM
If it's not real, it should be. That's a good idea. The only problem, as Christopher noted above, the smells from the sewer can be really off-putting. I'd be worried about some potential subconscious odor-correlation.
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  07:42 AM
Wouldn't putting stickers over manhole covers be a form of vandalism?
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  07:44 AM
My only concern is the number of holes in this plastic cover. There are only two because there are only two OPEN holes in the manhole. The others are clogged with dirt, which is not uncommon. Either the holes were cut on site to suit each manholes, or it's a photoshop oversight.

There are plenty of manholes leaking STEAM not sewage. It just smells like your iron on steam setting. And NYC doesn't really have standard manhole covers. There was a photgrapher who made a book of all the different manholes all over the city.
Posted by Rob  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  10:23 AM
Mmm, I want a nice cup of sewer water.
Posted by Sakano  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  10:51 AM
It could be a storm manhole. I'm guessing photoshop. I don't see any holes in the "vinyl" coffe cup to release the steam.

I found a site explaining a possible reason for the steam -->
Posted by Dae DAe  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  06:35 PM
check out and search for folgers under print ads. saatchi takes credit for it there. if it wasn't real, I dont' think they would.
Posted by Rex  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  08:30 PM
Yeah, this particular image looks like a pitch image, tho, not a functional campaign
Posted by Mel  on  Thu Apr 27, 2006  at  02:58 AM
The holes are there, Dae. You just have to look closely to see them. I didn't see them at first either.
Posted by Sakano  on  Thu Apr 27, 2006  at  04:34 AM
I see them now. I thought the holes were bubbles.
Posted by dae dae  on  Thu Apr 27, 2006  at  10:37 AM
I worked with the creative team that did this ad (though not on this particular execution) and can attest to it being real. It was placed for only one day due to high costs. The girl in the long coat works at Saatchi on the Folger's account.
Posted by Greg  on  Fri Oct 06, 2006  at  02:03 PM
I think it's fake, I can't see more than two free holes in the 'advert' cover... just like the clogged manhole? If it's real, prove it with more pics, thanks.

Secondly, I went to NY a few months ago and well, some vents give of sewage steam and some normal steam but overall... they mostly smell.

Unless that's saying something about Folgers... ahhh it all makes sense now! I've tasted it, it's true! Drink a cup of sewage!
Posted by CD  on  Sun Oct 29, 2006  at  10:49 AM
Its real alright. This ad, like the McDonald's sundial billboard near Wrigley Field in Chicago, has been featured in articles everywhere from BusinessWeek to the New York Post. The BusinessWeek article in particular even quotes the Folgers brand manager Ed Bello who commissioned the ad. Due to lack of cooperation from NYC, it seems the vinyl cover was in place on only one manhole and for only two hours. Luckily for Proctor & Gamble, it will live online for many years to come...
Posted by Joel  on  Mon Nov 27, 2006  at  01:12 PM
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