It’s hard to keep up with a city that never sleeps. It’s even harder to pass through “The Crossroads of the World” during a hot summer day in Manhattan without being mesmerized by the best outdoor advertising in the world.
With 38 million tourists passing through annually (not to mention the tens of millions of locals), it’s no wonder Times Square has become the ultimate spot for brands to show off in the biggest, boldest ways imaginable.
Leveraging this one-of-a-kind location began at the start of the First World War, when its iconic Theater District began attracting visitors in droves. Eleven years later, the first running electric sign was lit to announce Herbert Hoover’s victory in the presidential elections.
Now, the billboards have become such a tourist attraction for the area that the zoning actually requires the buildings to be plastered with them.
The biggest change today, of course, is the convergence of digital signage and mobile technology. Today signage is able to use rich multimedia formats, to collect real-time information, and create an immersive and engaging consumer experience unlike any before.
Back in the day, the only movement we saw from our signs came compliments of the steam rising from a cup of the Eight O’Clock Roast. Today digital signage offers not only eye-catching visuals but also advanced forms of consumer engagement. Here are some of the best examples in Times Square today:
Dunkin’ Donuts is currently promoting its “Facebook Fan of the Week” campaign. This is a perfect instance of a brand that is grabbing customers’ attention in a way that is engaging, relevant and up to date. Who wouldn’t want 10 minutes of fame?
Another well-designed ad is American Eagle’s “Rock Your Walk” campaign. It’s a promotional effort that actively involves its customers by offering an incentive: “Be the best and get featured on our Times Square billboard.” The company promotes its URL and the #rockyourwalk hashtag to encourage consumers to connect with the brand.
BlackBerry, meanwhile, successfully leveraged full-motion video to promote its “Keyboard Love” campaign. The signage, announcing the launch of the new BlackBerry Q10 and BlackBerry Z10 smartphones, is impossible to miss. And again, the company promotes its URL and the #keyboardlove hashtag to further consumer engagement.
In many ways, though, Times Square hasn’t changed. It’s still the place to get in front of swarms of people with cutting-edge out-of-home executions. What has changed is the rate of technology and how it interplays with the oldest of ad mediums. And this is only the beginning.
Alyse Lorber is the global marketing assistant at gyro.
Follow Alyse @alyse_michelle