LONDON – Central London’s Piccadilly Circus had its famous lights switched on again on Thursday after they underwent nine months of major renovations to bring them fully up to date with 21st-century technology.
Since the first Perrier water billboard surrounded by incandescent bulbs was switched-on in 1908, the Piccadilly Lights have attracted visitors from across the United Kingdom and only been turned off during World War II, for the funerals of Winston Churchill in 1965 and Princess Diana in 1997 and – briefly – during energy-saving environmental campaigns.
“Piccadilly Lights, one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks and a globally-recognised advertising space has been having a makeover,” the company in charge of looking after the illuminations said in a statement. “Be part of history, help power-on the Piccadilly Lights. Sponsor a colour, make a difference, empower children’s lives.”
The central London square, know as a circus because of its round shape and through which some 100 million people pass every year, has always kept abreast of technological upgrades.
The early 20th century light bulbs were gradually replaced with neon lights until 1998, when digital projection was first introduced and again in 2011 when LED displays completely replaced neon.
Piccadilly Lights, owned by the Landsec company, now boasts a single High Definition 790 square meter screen, composed of 11.6 million LED elements, making it the largest of its kind in Europe.
Although retaining its world-famous curved shape, surface area and ability to generate a patchwork multi-screen appearance, the Piccadilly lights will include other new features such as high-speed fiber Wi-Fi network, enabling brands to host consumer targeted content linked to the screen, live video streaming connecting London with the rest of the world.
Additional content will feature lifestyle updates, weather, traffic, sports results, flights, finance information and real-time social media feeds while also an ability to share Twitter, Facebook and Instagram connections.
Advertisers can now take advantage of the screen’s ability to rotate between six full-motion shared sections, with the possibility of harnessing brief single-brand takeovers with the massive composite screen.
Land Securities (Landsec), the owner of one of the most coveted advertising spaces in the world includes among its client’s roster global brands such as BP, Canon, Cinzano, Coca-Cola, Fujifilm, Hyundai, McDonald’s, Panasonic, Samsung, Schweppes, and TDK, all of which have occupied the central curved screen for over two decades.