It’s a Blackout for the Piccadilly Lights


The Piccadilly Lights are arguably one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks, as well as a globally-recognised advertising space. The famous lights are set to undergo a redevelopment that will give new brands a rare chance to secure a sought-after spot.

Currently, the Piccadilly Lights is made up of 6 illuminated boards, each occupied by a brand – such as Coca-Cola and Samsung. In the planned overhaul these are expected to be replaced with a single state-of-the-art LED digital screen and live technology hub. The 790-square metre screen, which will be the largest of its kind in Europe, will divide into six full and subtle motion segments, preserving the Lights’ famous mosaic look.

The new Piccadilly Lights’ will have fast Wi-Fi, audience and car recognition technology and will become fully responsive to the environment (i.e weather, audiences, traffic). Alongside this, a dedicated leased fibre line to enable for interactivity moderated broadcast quality streaming and various social feeds. The new screen will also provide live video streaming and updates such as news, weather updates and sports results.

These additions in technology will grant the advert space holders unprecedented tools, which will enable them the power to run campaigns that adapt to real-time events. This becomes especially poignant when one considers that the Piccadilly Lights are seen by 100 million people each year.

The work is due to be completed in autumn of this year, and while work is underway the famous advertising space will remain switched off. Since their installation in 1908, the Piccadilly Lights have been switched off only a handful of times: World War II, Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965, Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 and more recently for Earth Hour.

How much is it costing for the Piccadilly Lights to be off?

Well, unfortunately, there isn’t an official price guide to calculate from. I get the idea it’s a bit like, ‘if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it’. However, according to this article, the price of just one of the 6 spots in 2014 was £4 million a year. Using that as a guide, that’s £24 million a year; £2 million a month; £65,753 a day. A day.

Now obviously, I can’t say for sure this is how much Land Securities are losing, as a match-shift protective banner will be covering the site during construction, which will feature the 6 brands that occupy the slots. I’d estimate a reduction in price, while the replacement is necessary and temporary, it’s still substandard… especially with that price tag.

Two London creatives have wasted no time in adding their 2 cents, with a prank that endeavoured to make the Piccadilly Lights look like the latest victim of adblocking.

Anyway, whatever way you look at the Piccadilly Lights being switched off, financial, creative or cultural – we think it’s interesting!

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