Times Square and Piccadilly Circus are two of the busiest areas in the world. They both have rich histories and are most famous for their billboard displays. For the last 100 years, billboards have dominated both areas, with some of the biggest brands in the world advertising there.
The cost to feature on these billboards is astronomical, and only the biggest companies in the world can afford to pay the large amounts involved. It must be difficult for these companies to quantify the ROI on the billboards, and it is often more a case of showing the strength of your brand by featuring in one of the most expensive advertising areas in the world. The seemingly hefty fees may be considered small by companies like Coca-Cola, which turn over billions yearly.
In this context, we’ve outlined the history of both areas and the stories behind the billboards as outlined from Sign A Rama Toronto and provided an overview of what the future may hold.
The Billboards Capitals Of The World
Millions of tourists are attracted to these places to see all the brightest billboards and the famous entertainment that goes with them each year. Billboard advertisements are everywhere in this area as companies want to exploit the huge amount of footfall.
Celebrities such as Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin were closely associated with Times Squire in the 1910s and 1920s.
During this period the area was nicknamed The Tenderloin because it was supposedly the most desirable location in Manhattan. It was during this period that the areas were besieged by crime and corruption.
The Piccadilly Circus was built in 1918 to connect Regent Street and Piccadilly Street, famous for its ample shopping opportunities. During the 1920s, Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth lived at 145 Picadilly with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of York.
The Origin of the Name
Formerly Longre Square, Times Square was renamed in April 1904. The reason is that the New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building.
The Piccadilly originated from the 19th-century frilled collar named Piccadilly. Roger Baker, a tailor who became rich for making Piccadilly lived in the area. The word circus refers to the roundabout around which traffic circulated. However, it’s not around anymore.
At the first of the first world war, Times Square was the centre of the theatre District and attracted large numbers of visitors. This made the square an ideal place for billboards. In 1917 the first large electric display board was installed. Eleven years later, the first running electric sign was lit for the first time to announce Albert Hoover’s victory in the presidential elections.
The billboard has become such a tourist attraction in the area that the zoning now requires the buildings to be covered with billboards.
The Piccadilly Circus’s famous billboards began in 1908 with a Perrier sign. Electric billboards were set up on the facade of the London Pavilion. The earliest sign used incandescent light bulbs, replaced with neon lights and moving characters.
In Times Square, it costs between $2.1 million and $4 million a year if you want to buy neon billboards. The taller tower in the middle of the Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersection makes $23 million a year from the billboard that covers it.
That makes it the most expensive set of billboards in the entire world.
Many people come to Times Square for the ambience and the Billboard spectacle, but there are also many restaurants and shops, with well over 100 in the area. Times Square is better known for its entertainment, and plenty of people visit to attend a Broadway show.
Piccadilly Circus is now partly pedestrianized and a favourite place for people to congregate before going to the nearby shopping and entertainment areas.
Soho, Chinatown, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square are all within walking distance.
Times Square has more visitors than each of Disney Theme parks World Wide. There were 1,287,000 visitors to Walt Disney World attractions in 2012. The high level of traffic has resulted in $ 4.8 Billion in annual retail, entertainment, and hotel sales. Twenty-two cents out of every dollar spent by the visitor in New York City is spent at Times Square.
There 73 million people walk past Piccadilly Circus each year. 69% of those are on foot which typically means a slower pace giving them more time to see ads. As it is in the heart of the city, advertisers typically reach a 24- Hour Audience. The traffic has resulted in a retail boom in the Piccadilly Circus area, but many visitors consider prices too expensive.
In February 2011, Times Square became smoke-free as New York Extended the outdoor smoking ban in the area. The fine for anyone caught smoking within the area is $50.
Google has become the first company to rent the world’s largest and most expensive digital billboard in Times Square, New York. The billboard is eight storeys high and is estimated to cost $2.5 million to hire for four weeks.
The Piccadilly Circus, even the corporate might, was unable to stop the lights from being switched off during world war 2. They have only been turned off on three occasions. Firstly the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965, then again of Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, and Queen Elizabeth farewell.
Future of Billboards on Time Square and Piccadilly
As part of a competition, a team of designers has come up with a new building for Times Square that they call Times Squared 3015. The tower is a vertical city with oversized floors home to beaches, mountains and stadiums, shopping complexes, and housing.
Getting around the complexes would be easy for 32000 inhabitants, thanks to the internal subway system and a series of elevators and escalators.
The promise of the Times Squared 3015 is a city where residents could live, work and play without ever leaving. Plans are being drawn for a new high-speed orbital railway connecting London zone three suburbs to keep the capital’s soaring population moving over the next few decades.
The project requires over $ 300 Billion on transport and infrastructure by the year 2050 to keep the suburbs up to speed and connected with the heart of the city.
Infographic by Sign A Rama Toronto
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