The Adbins, Site/Ad-Site Research Project

Documenting the research into Adbins and the development of the Site/Ad-Site ongoing artwork

The Site/Ad-Site project: Adrian Lee and Nick Ferguson

  1. Introduction
  2. Project
  3. Deptford X, 2018
  4. Art Night 2019
  5. What are Adbins?
  6. Some background to Addison Lee
  7. John Griffin’s ‘Adbins’ statement
  8. Box design
  9. Key cutting
  10. The Addison Lee v. Westminster Council legal battle
  11. Other Adbins clients
  12. The collapse of Adbins (and another legal battle)
  13. Archived websites pages
  14. Adbins in other cities
  15. Original contact information for Adbins and affiliated business (where are they now?)
  16. Legacy of how it used to be – bicycles
  17. Upcycled Adbins
  18. Tours
  19. The future of the Site/Ad-Site project

1.            Introduction

In 2007 Addison Lee’s then owner John Griffin commissioned the installation of approximately 14,000 cigarette bins (Adbins) on the outside of pubs and restaurants and other premises around Greater London to coincide with the smoking ban.

 I don’t remember their arrival and by the time they changed from overlooked and unseen objects to something I registered they were already abandoned and feral.

Once I was aware of them my interest was piqued: they sat literally in a non-space, between street furniture and building, between installer and property owner, between rich areas (where they do not appear to have been installed) and poor areas (where they were also not installed for other reasons) and finally between the Addison Lee that commissioned them and the corporation that bought the company in 2013.

Meanwhile the Adbins sit decaying on the fronts of buildings around London.

2.            Project

I contacted friend and fellow artist Nick Ferguson and suggested that we collaborate on an artwork that utilised these bins. We discussed various ideas, (including a scheme where current premises occupiers could request their removal and we would return them to the current Addison Lee head-office in one of their cabs) and finally settled on the Site/Ad-Site project.

For Site/Ad-Site the existing advertisement for Addison Lee Cabs in the A4 window on the front of the box is removed and replaced with a photograph of the Adbin itself in its surroundings, with the date the photograph was taken written on it. This then serves as a record of how the area looked on that date until the box is removed or disintegrates or the image is obscured or fades.

Exhibition Text

Site/Ad-site is a public-realm artwork that explores the passing of time, gentrification, and the relationship between public and private interest. The work makes use of advertising space on the front of the abandoned cigarette bins which was affixed to various premises around London ‘for free’ by the courier firm Addison Lee in 2007. Referencing the registers of architectural surveying, as well as the tradition of ‘mise-en-abime’, each now holds an image of itself in its current environment. For as long as they are left in situ, they will provide a record of the street frontage in a time of rapid urban change.

3.            Deptford X, 2018

Deptford X is a contemporary visual arts festival based in and around Deptford, South East London. It invites artists to propose artworks for a 10-day event every year. To be eligible for the work must be shown within 1 kilometre radius of Deptford Overground Station.

The documentation we made available on 21 September: Deptford X 2018 Launch night:


These were the only two Adbins within the required 1-kilometre radius of the station. There are a number of bins to the east in the, more affluent, Greenwich area, and these two were on the border of both, affixed to the front of the vacant Lord Hood public house. However on 21 September 2018 the Adbins on the Lord Hood on Creek Road could no longer be viewed from the street, they were behind a wooden hording erected in advance of the pub’s demolition. In it place now stands a block of flats.

4.            Art Night 2019

Art Night is an annual single-night contemporary Arts festival held in cities all over the world. It has an invited curator and a different area of the city is selected each year. Art Night London 2019 was curated by Helen Nisbet and took place in Walthamstow and Kings Cross on 22 June.

The Site/Ad-Site Adbins map for Art Night 2019:

The Site/Ad-Site Adbins list for Art Night 2019:

Number 3, 5 and 17 of the Art Night 2019 Site/Ad-Site Adbins:


  • I couldn’t find any Adbins in Walthamstow. Kings Cross, however, is fertile ground and on 17 February 2019 had 27 Adbins within a 500-metre radius of the train station. As a major transport hub and peppered to the south with budget hotels the Kings Cross area would have been the perfect location for siting the receptacles in 2007. The slick Granary Square development to the north is new but the Somers Town Estate, Caledonian Road and the hotel district remain largely unchanged and this liminal, transient area of small, independent businesses, restaurants, hotels and light industrial units still had a large number of Adbins intact.
  • By Art Night, three months after the initial search, five of the 27 bins were no longer in place.

5.            What are Adbins?

Adbins was a company set up by John Griffin as a subsidiary of his taxi company Addison Lee. Seeing an opportunity to capitalise on the 2007 UK smoking ban he installed ashtrays on the outside of premises throughout Greater London. They were installed for free with the idea that they would generate revenue via advertisements placed by Adbins in the glass-fronted A4 space on the front.

According to an archived version of the original Adbins.co.uk website:

Manufactured to the highest standards, Adbins are an innovative product that enable businesses to dispose of cigarette butts cleanly and hygienically. The Adbin is made from a tough ‘rustproof’  powder coated iron and is designed to last for many years in all kinds of weather.

New Adbins are being installed daily.

Currently we have approximatley [sic] 14,000 bins across 6,500 locations within Greater London.



See 13. Archived websites pages for more details of the original Adbins website.

6.            Some background to Addison Lee

Addison Lee was founded by John Griffin as Pacecroft Limited in 1975. Griffin was convinced that his new company needed a name which started with an “A” for it to appear early in telephone directory listings. A colleague who lived in a squat in Addison Gardens said people seemed to think this was a very posh address, which Griffin supplemented with Lee. Addison Lee was founded in 1975, with half the company owned by investor Lenny Foster.

In April 2013 the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, purchased the company for £300m. John Griffin initially remained as chairman with son Liam replacing Daryl Foster as CEO. In October 2014 John Griffin stepped down and is no longer involved with the company.

He is a major donor to the Conservative party and Brexit supporter.



7.            John Griffin’s ‘Adbins’ statement

This is a statement by John Griffin, Chairman of Addison Lee about the Adbins on the original Addison Lee website:

 Adbins has been operating since 2007 and now provides around 16,000 cigarette bins to thousands of businesses across London.

 Since the smoking ban came into effect in 2007, business owners have been liable to be charged fines should they not provide receptacles for litter  – specifically including cigarette butts – of up to £2,500.

 So now, more than three years after we started providing these bins at zero cost to businesses in London, somebody at Westminster Council with too much time on their hands has decided to persecute us for helping to reduce the 2,700 tonnes of cigarette butts dropped in London streets each year. Westminster argues that we need planning permission for the bins, but whenever we put the bin up, we get the permission of the restaurant. If the restaurant needs planning permission, that is a matter for them.

 Westminster Council themselves spend at least £32m a year on waste collection, street cleaning and issuing press releases announcing a crackdown on smoking litter. Now they are wasting more taxpayers’ money to take us to court in this perverse action when they should be thanking us for doing our bit to keep the streets tidy at no cost to anyone but ourselves.

8.            Box design

The four different boxes that I have come across so far are:

Version one appears to be the earliest and they are very rare. It is made from folded and welded powder-coated steel. It opens to the left and access to the advertisement window is from the top, with the hinges at the bottom.

Version two is pressed, powder-coated steel. Access to the window is through a side-opening door. The web address wwvv.ukadbins.co.uk is written on the front. This web address was the main web address from the beginning, November 2007 until June 2008, after which it was redirected to adbins.co. uk. At this time they claimed to have 500 bins in North and Central London.

Version three has no web address.

Version four is identical to version three but with wwvv.adbins.co.uk on the front. These account for approximately 60% of the remaining London bins.

There is no manufacturing information on the bins themselves and it has not been possible for me to trace their origin, however I have never found them for sale on the open market. It is therefore possible, if not likely, that they were produced for Adbins with Stubit and Ashvertising (see 14.  Adbins in other cities below) getting their units from Adbins.

9.            Key cutting

This is a universal Adbin key for the lock on the side of the units:

The vast majority of Adbins still in existence are currently hanging open. A few have had the lock removed or been forced so they cannot be relocked, however most have been unlocked and left. The manager of a restaurant that I spoke to in the Kings Cross area who had a locked bin outside her premises told me that she had unsuccessfully requested a key from Addison Lee.

The very few maintained Adbins that I have found belong primarily to hotels, restaurants and Adult Education establishments. The key owned by school in Bloomsbury worked in an Adbin lock I had, which suggested that all the locks (and therefore keys) were identical. After discussing it with the head maintenance guy, and leaving my driving license as deposit, they lent me their working key. I cycled around in the rain and tried three keycutters before finding one that could cut me two copies. All credit to Farringdon Locksmith & Tool Supplies on Exmouth Market, who, after trying all the obvious blanks disappeared upstairs and managed to make some out of a suitcase key or something.

This doesn’t explain why Griffin agreed to the additional expense and admin of fitting locks in the first place. Apart from being a fire hazard they were often broken into and damaged by people wanting the tobacco in the old cigarette butts.

10.            The Addison Lee v. Westminster Council legal battle

In 2010 Westminster Council brought legal action against Addison Lee over the installation of 21 Adbins at seven sites across the borough, six of which are in the Marylebone conservation areas. In a statement John Griffin said:

Westminster is wasting taxpayers in this perverse action. They should be thanking us for doing our bit to keep the streets tidy at no cost to anyone but ourselves. Westminster argues that we need planning permission for the bins, but whenever we put the bin up, we get the permission of the restaurant. If the restaurant needs planning permission, that is a matter for them. He [Boris Johnson, the then London Mayor] has said the Adbins are a commendable effort to keep London tidy. In the meantime, Westminster have decided they want to bully us. Nobody else is bothered about it.

On 13 August 2010 The Evening Standard wrote:

Addison Lee chairman John Griffin told the Standard he hoped to call Mayor Boris Johnson as a witness when the case goes before City of Westminster magistrates on September 29. The hearing was postponed this week.

His company began giving pubs and restaurants the metal bins, at a cost to Addison Lee of about £50 each to buy and maintain, after England’s smoking ban was introduced in 2007. They are fixed to walls in external smoking areas and enable smokers to dispose of cigarettes without littering.

A further 5,000 bins are planned. Some featured an advert for the taxi company, but the latest ones do not because, it says, the post-pub trade is not its target market.

On 21 April 2011 a judge ruled that Addison Lee had acted illegally by erecting the bins without planning permission and ordered their removal and the payment of the council’s £21,407 costs and a £480 fine. All the bins featured Addison Lee advertising and19 also featured Adbins advertising. Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster Council, said:

We are pleased with today’s decision. Unfortunately, Addison Lee and Adbins put up their cigarette bins advertising their services without the relevant permission. We advised them as far back as 2008 that they were in the wrong but they refused to remove their advertisements. Given the court’s decision we will now look at grounds for enforcement action on the remainder of their bins.

After the result Griffin said:

They advocate individuals and businesses taking responsibility and yet they are targeting us when what we are doing is making the capital a more pleasant place to live. The hypocrisy is staggering – apparently sponsoring bins in public places is all right providing Westminster gets a cut, but if it’s only helping local businesses, they’d rather have people dropping litter on the street. Over the past three-and-a-half years, we have had nothing but positive words from the public and business owners alike. The company has bins in every borough, but Westminster was the only council to complain.

In February 2012 he added:

I’m a Conservative supporter and a Boris supporter, but I’m disappointed that the mayor hasn’t looked into the matter. I’m a little concerned that no one has picked the phone and said ‘Mr Griffin this has been outrageous. Can we help?’

On 16 June 2012 Saira Kabir Sheikh QC, who represented Westminster City Council in the proceedings wrote on FTB, a barristers’ chambers website:

Westminster City Council were granted an injunction requiring Addison Lee plc and Adbins to remove all unlawful advertising in the area.  Addison Lee have been erecting cigarette bins across the area with their logo and website advertised on the front of these bins.  There are over 3000 such advertisements in the Council’s area.  These constitute advertisements for the purposes of the Advertising Regulations and no consent has ever been obtained for them.  Despite being found guilty of offences under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the advertisements remained and Westminster City Council have now been granted a mandatory order requiring these advertisements to be removed within 14 days.







  • In 2012 there were 3,000 Adbins in the Borough of Westminster.
  • Each Adbin costs about £50 to buy and maintain. This is one of only two references to Addison Lee being responsible for the maintenance of the Adbins (see Footnotes for: 13. Archived websites pages)
  • Some featured an advert for the taxi company, but the latest ones do not (John Griffin). (see 11. Other Adbins clients)

11.            Other Adbins clients

I have found mention of two clients for Adbins other than Addison Lee:

Dabitch , (Åsk Wäppling) Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland, Wrote on the Adlandblog on 15 May 2008:

anti smoking QUIT – lung X-Ray adbin, UK

Oh my god, I’m so grossed out. These helpful little bins allow you to dispose of your cigarette butts there, while doubling as a really gross image that may indeed turn you off from smoking, at least temporarily. See, part of the X-ray image is transparent allowing for the accumilated [sic] butts inside to be part of the visual. Apparently this is a new medium called “adbins”.

Kudos to the kids at Saatchi:
Client: anti smoking charity QUIT
Agency : Saatchi & Saatchi London

These images are from Adland website, photo credit: commercial-archive.com.


There is nothing on these photos to suggest where they were taken (that jacket/bracelet combination tells us nothing useful sadly) however the NO PAPER PLEASE! sign is identical to the Adbin on the Stubit website (see 14. Adbins in other cities) based in Nottingham.

The ashvertising twitter account (see 12. Archived websites pages) tweeted on 29 September 2010:

Samaritans ads up in Sheffield and Leeds.


  • I have never found an official advertisement remaining in an Adbins in London that is not for Addison Lee.
  • I have found faded white squares on some London Adbins that could have been NO PAPER PLEASE! signs, however none have been legible.

12.            The Collapse of Adbins (and another legal battle)

On 17 June 2019 Kate Steele (Moore) at Hill Dickinson LLP wrote an article for Lexology.com, a reference for legal updates, analysis and insights for law firms and in-house counsel that used the collapse of Advertising Bins Ltd (AdBins), and a court case against John Griffin, to demonstrate When success isn’t a success.

Basically: shares were sold in Advertising Bins Ltd (AdBins) that promised a dividend from the revenue produced from selling the advertising in the Adbins. The only client was Addison Lee, also John Griffin’s company. The amount charged to Addison Lee by Adbins for the advertising it received decreased to nothing so no money was coming in. The company collapsed and the shareholders didn’t get any money. The shareholders won the court case and Griffin was ordered to buy back their shares, however there shares weren’t actually worth anything.

The first half of the article is reproduced here:

In a recent unfair prejudice petition (Ashdown and Ors -v- Griffin and Ors [2018]) concerning a company known as Advertising Bins Ltd (AdBins), the Court of Appeal was required to consider the meaning of success when deciding what order to make on costs.


AdBins was established in 2007 to install cigarette bins outside pubs and restaurants. The idea was that the bins would be installed free of charge but revenue would be generated by advertisements on the bins. AdBins only managed to secure one main client, Addison Lee Plc (ADL). A number of the shareholders and a director of AdBins were associated with ADL. AdBins’ charges to ADL decreased over time to such an extent that, by March 2011, AdBins was providing advertising to ADL free of charge. Needless to say, the business failed.

Three shareholders of AdBins commenced proceedings alleging unfair prejudice. The main respondent was the controlling director, Mr Griffin. The petitioning shareholders asserted that AdBins’ affairs had been, and were being, conducted in a manner that was unfairly prejudicial to their interests. Firstly, the respondents had allowed AdBins to provide free or heavily discounted advertising space to ADL in breach of the fiduciary duties they owed to AdBins. Secondly, the respondents had deliberately not sought out other advertisers for the bins to ensure bins were available for ADL.

The High Court upheld the petitioners’ first head of complaint. The controlling director had abandoned the interests of AdBins in favour of ADL. The Court ordered a buy out of the company shares without a minority discount. On paper, that was a great result for the petitioners.

However, the sums in issue were modest. The Court considered the petitioning shareholders had ‘grossly unrealistic expectations (1) as to the viability of the business of [AdBins] and (2) the sums which ADL ought to have paid for advertising on the bins’. Following a hearing on quantum, it followed that ‘the shares in [AdBins] were worthless, or practically so, and therefore there is no value to be ascribed as the price for the purchase of the shares by the respondents’. Therefore, whilst the petitioners had won on paper, in reality the shares they were fighting about were not worth the paper they were written on.

For the decision of the High Court on costs and the later decision on the appeal please follow this link:


13.            Archived websites pages: ukadbins.co.uk and adbins.co.uk

Ukadbins.co.uk appears to be the main UK web address from the beginning of the enterprise, November 2007, until June 2008, after which traffic was redirected to adbins.co.uk. At this time they claimed to have 500 bins in North and Central London.

Adbins is a new unique and innovative product designed to benefit business owners throughout the UK since the introduction of the Smoking Ban on 1st July 2007.

For business owners faced with seeing your staff and/or customers being forced to stand outside your premises, phone us on 0X00 0X1 2X93 and we can supply you FREE BINS*.

Remember, accumulation of cigarette litter outside buildings could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record.

For business owners looking to gain maximum benefits of advertising on these hard wearing Ashtrays.

Your advert will be placed behind a thick glass sheet which protects the advert in its own waterproof holder will have maximum effect.

*Subject £12.50 installation charge per bin.



  • The installation charge dropped from an initial £12.50 per bin to £5 per bin in June 2008 and was eventually free.

The first, archived version of the original Adbins.co.uk website is from July 2007. It is reproduced in its entirety (sic) here:

Welcome to Adbins.co.uk

Adbins are a a unique way for businesses to dispose of troublesome cigarette butts whilst promoting themselves or other local businesses at the same time.

Introducing the Adbin

Our unique cigarette disposal advertising bins won’t cost you money…

...they’ll MAKE you money!

How? Well, you can either profit by selling the advertising space to local businesses


you can promote upcoming events or special promotions!

Contact us today or order your Adbins online!

© Copyright 2007 Adbins.co.uk – All rights reserved

On 11 November 2007 the website text had been updated to:

Adbins is a new unique and innovative product designed to benefit business owners throughout the UK since the introduction of the Smoking Ban on 1st July 2007. For business owners faced with seeing your staff and/or customers being forced to stand outside your premises, phone us on 08X0 0X1 2X3 and we can supply you FREE BINS*.

Remember, accumulation of cigarette litter outside buildings could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record. For business owners looking to gain maximum benefits of advertising on these hard wearing Ashtrays click here.

Your advert will be placed behind a thick glass sheet which protects the advert in its own waterproof holder will have maximum effect.

A range of options are available.

For Business Owners requiring Bins we can supply these to you, normally FREE OF CHARGE*, including all MAINTENANCE and DISPOSAL of cigarette waste. Call us NOW on 0X00 0X1 2X93 or email info@adbins.co.uk

For Business Owners wishing to market products or services, adverts can be placed on any number of bins from 1 to 1000. Choice of particular venues are also available. Call us NOW on 0800 011 2793 or email info@adbins.co.uk

Looking for a unique and effective way to promote your business outside…

  • Shops
  • Pubs
  • Restaurants
  • Train stations
  • Leisure centres
  • Factories
  • Sports grounds

Place your advert on these unique, innovative and hard wearing Ashtrays. These adverts will placed behind a thick glass sheet in its own waterproof holder.

For a small weekly cost your A4 colour or black & white Advert can be seen by a multitude of people every day.

Take advantage of the no smoking ban [sic]

Let your advert be seen by a wide audience


*Subject £12.50 installation charge per bin.

Currently we have approximatly [sic] 500 bins in and around North & Central London.

© Copyright 2007 ukadbins.co.uk. All Rights Reserved.

From 14 September 2008 – 19 December 2013 the website and pages looked like this.


The Law:

Our Network:



  • According to this information between November 2007 and September 2008 14,500 Adbins were installed.
  • The text on 2007 is the only mention by Addison Lee anywhere that states that they would be responsible for all MAINTENANCE and DISPOSAL of cigarette waste.
  • Sadly the map on the archived Adbins /our network page is blank. Pins that were added to the googlemaps page were not saved.

14.            Adbins in other cities: smokeoutdoors.com, ashvertising.co.uk and The Stubbit Ashtray Advertising Co.

Smokeoutdoors.com went live in May 2007 and appears to have been set up for the international market. This is the website text (sic) at that time:

Warning : You will need one

Adbin ensures the safe disposal of cigarette litter

Adbin allows you to promote your business through advertising or to sell your ad space

Adbin is incredibly popular due to its unique design and price

Adbin was demonstrated as a leading new product at Olympia’s April Publican Fayre

Adbin is approved by GreenPlanet® “Campaigning for a cleaner world”

• On 1 July the Government’s Health act comes into force
• It will be illegal to smoke in a Public Place
• This will include offices,shops,pubs,restaurants,leisure outlets,factories and sports grounds
• Smokers must resort to smoking outside
• Smokers,business owners and occupiers,retailers and Landlords will all be responsible for the clean and safe disposal of cigarette butts
• Accumulation of cigarette litter outside buildings will result in a fine of up to 2,500 and a criminal record
• Council Authorised Officers will enforce the ban and bring prosecutions

Adbin was a UK top 10 product exhibited at The Publican’s Olympia Show in April.

Delivery date confirmed

We will be dispatching adbins from the last week in May to our customers who have placed advanced orders.

Adbin has received the Innovation UK Award for Best Newcomer Product 2007

In April 2008 this was amended to:

As smoking bans spread across Europe there is an outstanding opportunity to copy the success of Adbins in the UK.

An Adbin is a robust, high quality great looking bin that allows you to advertise 24/7.

Adbins have conquered the UK now they can do the same in the EU.

Adbins offer a whole new advertising opportunity.  Outside clubs, bars, restaurants and businesses Adbins keep the streets clean AND provide a secure A4 sized advertising opportunity.

The design, styling and high production quality have helped Adbins to take off in the UK and the same requirements to keep smokers outside and their litter under control is now a reality across Europe.

Adbins have now become mini-poster sites in high profile, popular locations and the potential is enormous.

We are the sole manufacturer of these lockable, waterproof, sturdy bins which are high quality powder-coated for rust resistance.

We can supply them for a better price than other, often lower quality bins and we can ship them anywhere in Europe.

By April 2011 visitors to this site were being redirected to the far slicker, Sheffield-based ashvertising.co.uk.

Ashvertising is the simple, cost effective and direct street facing advertising concept that has got everyone talking! Since the conception of the AdBin, they have been popping up all over Sheffield & Leeds. You’ve probably seen them about already!

Your company can sponsor an AdBin for £25 per month, you then supply us with your A4 adverts and we do the rest.Choose how many you want, and for how long, the best results come from 3 months onwards.

Outside clubs, bars, restaurants and businesses Adbins keep the streets clean and provide a secure A4 sized advertising opportunity. You will receive our full support and experience as well as access to our bespoke systems.

If you are interested in running an Ashvertising license or if you would like to advertise on an Adbin please contact us at: enquiries@ashvertising.co.uk

You can also get in touch via telephone by calling +44 (0)11X2 7X6X91

By November 2011 the account had been suspended. It resurfaced briefly in September 2014 with this holding page and disappeared again forever.

The ashvertising twitter account (We supply Adbins to agents all over the world. Contact us now for more information) was started in August 2009. Ashvertising Twitter account handler Lee tweeted 13 times.

The highlights being:

Our new website http://www.ashvertising.co.uk is now live! See our Latest News section along with details of our Adbins including an animation. (28 August 2009)

Meetings in London on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. (9 September 2009)

Office extension completed. (11 November 2009)

Samaritans ads up in Sheffield and Leeds. (29 September 2010)

And Lee’s final tweet:

Discounts available for remaining adbins in Leeds. Call now (9 June 2011)

The Stubit Ashtray Advertising Company operates in the East Midlands area. It registered Stubitashtrayadvertising.co.uk in April 2010 and appears to still exist. Their current Yell.com page reads:

Advertising for local businesses at affordable prices!

We supply fit & maintain “adbins” cigarette bins at sites throughout the East Midlands area.

These include pubs clubs supermarkets bookies offices and so on in fact wherever people gather together to talk and to enjoy a cigarette.

They provide an opportunity for advertisers often taxi operators to advertise their services to customers.

Our services include obtaining suitable sites, design and production of an eye catching insert. Setting up sites with regular site visits to ensure your advert looks good.

Rates start from £1 per week plus set up cost and volume discounts are available.

Please ask for further information.


On Freeindex they state:

Based at warehouse in Thorneywood (Nottingham), Stubit Ashtray Advertising Co provides and fits advertising ashtrays at pubs clubs and supermarkets throughout Nottingham. Established in 2010, the company partnership has many years of experience in the outdoor advertising business. With creative staff available to advise and produce the best adverts to get your message across. In-house printing of posters leaflets and cards to support your adverts at very low costs. Maintenance and servicing of the ashtrays is carried out regularly so that your adverts always look stunning. 


Ashvertising and Stubit both entered the market properly in 2010/11 and had/have three employees. There is no mention of Addison Lee on either site although the bins are the same. They could be franchises of the original Addison Lee / Adbins business or independent businesses in their own right, possibly getting the Adbin units from Addison Lee.

Ashvertising was the star that burnt brightest – with twitter and animations. It lasted about two years. Stubit appears to still exist and, according to its company profile on D&B busness directory, generates $241,160 in sales (USD).Dennis Shepperton is listed on Linked-In as have being a partner in the business for 9 years 6 months.  However it has no client reviews and the website has not changed at all since it was set up in June 2011.

 According to its website Stubbit has 15+ bins in nine different locations around the east Midlands:  (i.e. it would be possible to place an advertisement for four weeks (the minimum stated on the home page) in 15 ashtrays in Melton Mowbray for £99.45). On the bin locations page it states that over 100 bin locations are available.

Of the nine locations listed (Nottingham, Loughborough, Leicester, Derby, Melton Mowbray, Coalville and Heanor & Langley Mill & Eastwood) Coalville appears to be the smallest. I conducted a thorough Google Streetview search of the town but was unable to find any Adbins. Stubit’s head office is in Nottingham so I hoped for more success there. This time I focused on the pubs, of which there are many. The only one I found, on Das Kino, a ping-pong bar is pictured below.

Also pictured is an Adbin in Sheffield on a derelict pub on in the same style, presumably installed ten years ago by Ashvertising.

Images by Google Streetview and CBJ target

Red Lion pub now and in 2014, Images by Google Streetview and SteveHB (Pippopic 2014)




  • Disappointingly I could find no reference online to Innovation UK 2007, Best Newcomer Product 2007 Award for the Adbin.

15.            Original contact information for Adbins and affiliated businesses (where are they now?)

Domain Names:

Adbins.co.uk – this one

Adbins.com – see below

Smokeoutdoors.com – available to register

Ashvertising.co.uk – available to register

Ukadbins.co.uk – registered 31 July 2007 and expired on 31 July 2020. I registered the name and is now directed to this page

AshtrayAds.co.uk – available to register

Stubitashtrayadvertising.co.uk – Registered 30-Apr-2010 – expires 30 Apr 2022

Contact address or original website:

Free Bin: Matt Giles, 35- 37 William Road, London, NW1 3ER

Matt appears to have moved up at Addison Lee since 2015. Formally Head of Ashtray Installation, his current position at Addison Lee is Driver Liaison according to his Linked-in profile.

 35- 37 William Road, London, NW1 3ER was, and still is, the Addison Lee Head Office.

Other companies involved:

Embracemedia.co.uk – Registered 2 November 2007

The company that people were requested to contact if they wanted to advertise in Adbins:

In 2013 Adbin Advertising Enquiries were directed to: Embrace Media, The Old Pump House, Stonecross, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 4AA

This still exists, and at almost the same address. The Old Pump House is 1A and St Albans Business Centre is 1. The phone number is the same. The website is opaque. It says this (and little else):

Welcome to the wonderful world of Embrace. We live in a little place called “Can do & Go the extra five miles.”

Unlike others, we work with a small number of clients. We give the pinnacle of service, oodles of support, achieve results and deliver a return on our client’s media investment.

Our job is to go out & find target audiences, connect with them at the right time and in all the right places. We find unique ways to engage at a deeper level & deliver our clients message with real impact.

We don’t mind getting wet when it rains, we push on through the snow, we don’t spend the summer in the park sunbathing, we are not afraid of the dark & we certainly don’t hide under the bed when the thunder & lightning passes over head.

In summary our compact & nimble team of media ninjas just get on with making things happen.

Fortune favours the brave. Call us to discover more 0845 2X8 X5X8

Roxxor – The company that made the original Adbins website:

roxxor web development experts

new site landing july [sic] 2007

Website text in October 2007 read:

We are roxxor

On the cutting edge of web development

We are a team of experienced web development experts who understand the web and how it can help your business.

We design and deliver stunning, professional and user friendly solutions for a wide range of clients. 

We retain a small company dynamic and we hope you will find us personable and fun to work with.

What we’ve done and who we work with

Addison Lee are London’s largest minicab & courier company. We built their corporate website and their integrated, online web booking platform. We currently provide a consultancy service to help Addison Lee get the most out of their online presence.

They also developed this App:

Friend Sex

A useful facebook application to view the sex ratio of your friends

Friend Sex is a facebook application that lets you see a bar chart graph of the sex ratio of your friends. I often wonder whether my girlfriend’s suspicions that I am adding too many girls is well-founded, and as this proves (in my case anyway) I have a healthy 67% male ratio (at time of writing).


  • Both Embrace media and Roxxor were launched as companies in 2007, and both are based in St. Albans. John Griffin has strong ties to the area, he has lived in Potter’s Bar since 1979.



  • (Son of) Adbins.com – an unsuccessful reincarnation

Adbins.com appears to have been reregistered on16 March 2012 and became the website for a company that put advertisements on the bottom of the trays passengers put their belongings in when they go through security in airports.

According to the Web Archive a website existed for the company from 18 May 2013 to 2 October 2016.

It still has a video (https://vimeo.com/60342537) and a facebook page, which does not appear to have been updated since 2013. Here is its entire content:

Welcome to the official AdBins Facebook Page!

AdBins is an innovative Canadian-based agency that provides simple and effective air travel industry marketing solutions. Through strategic use of existing (‘found’ space), we’ve streamlined the marketing process to create exclusively direct impressions to potentially millions of people, every single day.

We work directly with airports, government agencies, and transport security authorities and maintain these relationships to secure your exclusive advertising space. We’re also focused on your future. We continually strive to pioneer and provide marketing space and methods not currently used in the industry.

Check back for upcoming events and news or visit our website at wwvv.adbins.com !



16.            Legacy of how it used to be – bicycles

In 2013 a private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, purchased the company for a reported £300 million. Now there is little reference on their current website to its colourful past. However they do state in their press release on 15 October 2015 that:

We been working hard to repair our relationship with cyclists and have added various diplomas that our drivers need to pass in order to be eligible to become an Addison Lee driver. A big part of this training is cycle awareness.

Our drivers have let us know that they meet many passengers who would love this as an option, so we have answered their call. There are many reasons why this service could be needed. A bike may get a puncture, the rider having a few drinks, they may be feeling ill, London weather etc. All the cyclist needs to do now is open the app and request a CycleCab and we will be there to help you and your bike get to where you want to go.


This no doubt is in reference to Addison Lee’s then chairman John Griffin’s statement in the April 2012 edition of Add Lib, the company’s in-house magazine:

This summer the roads will be thick with bicycles. These cyclists are throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world. They leap on to a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat. Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss. The fact is he just didn’t see her and however cautious, caring or alert he is, the influx of beginner cyclists is going to lead to an overall increase in accidents involving cyclists. The rest of us occupying this road space have had to undergo extensive training. We are sitting inside a protected space with impact bars and air bags and paying extortionate amounts of taxes on our vehicle purchase, parking, servicing, insurance and road tax.

It is time for us to say to cyclists, ‘You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up’.

London’s cycling community, including the London Cycling Campaign and the London Fixed-Gear and Single-Speed forum started boycotting Addison Lee cabs, leaving negative reviews on the company’s iPhone app, organizing protests, and calling for people to lobby their companies to stop their Addison Lee accounts and Dr. Belinda Web started an e-petition with HM Government to have Addison Lee’s license withdrawn. On 26 April 2012, the Chief Procurement Officer confirmed that the UK Government (OP71) contract with Addison Lee would be terminated at the end of April 2012.


Also in April 2012 Griffin instructed all Addison Lee drivers to begin using bus lanes and said the firm would indemnify any fines or payments  that the drivers incurred. He argued that allowing only licensed black taxis to use the lanes was “unfair discrimination”.

The High Court later ruled that Addison Lee could not encourage or instruct its driver to use bus lanes.


17.            Upcycled Adbins

Some new occupiers that have inherited an Adbin along with their premises have decided that, although the receptacle itself is of value, the advertisement that it contains is not. They have, therefore, customised the unit in accordance with their aesthetic.

This white and mosaic example is on Chapel Market, Angel.

18.            Tours

For Art Night 2019 Nick and I conducted two walking tours of the installations and ex-sites in the Kings Cross area, starting from Lincoln Lounge, 52 York Way, Kings Cross, London N1 9AB. Each tour took approximately an hour and included historical detail, fact, hypothesis and rambling anecdote.

Our Route:

Photos by Daniel Mattioli

19.            The future of Site/Ad-Site

We welcome invitations to map new areas of London, or, further in the future, the opportunity to revisit previously mapped area to document the changes.