Saturday, January 16, 2016

Piccadilly Lights

London The Unfinished City
Advertising Space.

Saturday January 16, 2016.

Between the dates of January 14 - 17, 2016, the Lumiere Festival visited the Unfinished City for the first time. It was while walking around some of the various installations, on a not very cold Saturday night, that I stopped at Piccadilly Circus, close to the statue of Anteros, the Angel of Christian Charity.

Because of the crowds that were milling about, even more so than normal because of the festival, I wasn't sure if I would be able to get a decent shot of the World famous Piccadilly Lights, but, to my surprise, this one came out quite well.

Brief History

In 1908, two years after the opening of Piccadilly Circus tube station, the first electrical advertisements appeared, on the fa├žade of the London Pavilion with Perrier being the first brand to be illuminated. Then, in 1923, electric billboards were set up. Theses early signs used incandescent light bulbs which were replaced with neon lights as well as moving signs. The very first neon sign was for Bovril.

Coca-Cola began advertising here, in 1955, with Sanyo taking up residence in 1978 and McDonald's joining the club in the 1980s.

In 1984 Sanyo took its second sign, which was the oldest of the existing signs and has remained unchanged ever since. It was the only sign left that used neon.

TDK replaced the space formerly occupied by Kodak, in 1990, while, in 1994, Samsung took the sign previously taken by Panasonic, which had replaced Canon.

During the 2000s there was a gradual move to change the signs to LED displays.

Hyundai took over one of the five permanent signs, in 2011, from Sanyo, marking the first time since 1994 that one of the signs had changed advertisers.

  • The screens cover 767 square metres.
  • Yoko Ono paid for the quote “Imagine all the people living life in peace” to be illuminated for three months, in 2002.
  • The lights have been turned off on three occasions (not including during WWII); 1965 - Sir Winston Churchill's funeral: 1987 - Diana, Princess of Wales' funeral: 2007 - For one hour as part of the Lights Out London campaign
  • 71,760,000 pedestrians walk past these signs each year.

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