The world famous billboard lights at Piccadilly Circus were today (Monday 16 January) switched off to allow for major renovations to one of London's most iconic spots.
The digital advertising boards will remain dimmed until autumn, with the redevelopment of the space expected to take eight months. A static advertising banner will cover the landmark until then.
It is the first time since WWII that the lights have gone off for a long period of time, with notable exceptions including Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965 and Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.
The current boards are set to be replaced with a single screen of the same size and shape which will have the capability to live-stream and provide real-time weather updates, display sports results and showcase social media feeds.
The new screen will be one of the highest resolution LED displays of its size in the world, and can be shared by six advertisers in total.
Both Coca-Cola, which has had a 62-year residency at Piccadilly Circus, and Samsung have renewed their long-standing commitments, leaving four brands the chance to secure a coveted spot.
Land Securities, which owns the space, appointed Ocean Outdoor to transform the site last July after also making the media company its ad sales partner for the lights.
"For the first time, the lights are witnessing their very own commercial ad break," said Ocean chief executive Tim Bleakley. "Needless to say, we are totally committed to working with all the partners on this milestone project to maintain the iconic status of this prestigious landmark. I personally can’t wait for the switch on date later this year."
Voices from ad land reacted swiftly to the news, including BMB co-founder Trevor Beattie.
How strangely, portentously, symbolically, darkly omninous, for adland and country alike.
Or perhaps just a refurb. https://t.co/Uw1G1u2X5u
— trevor beattie (@trevorbmbagency) January 16, 2017