It's lights out for Piccadilly this morning, as the patchwork of billboards adorning the Circus is switched off for the last time, to be replaced with the biggest, most technically advanced, screen in western Europe.
In its century long life, the advertising space has rarely been switched off during peacetime, bar a handful of notable exceptions to reflect the national mood. The funerals of Churchill and Diana, to name the two most prominent occasions, but also Earth Day – and every time London has a powercut.
Tim Bleakley, chief executive of Ocean Outdoor, the agency which organises the advertising on the board tells City A.M. “Piccadilly was the first site to be illuminated, the first to have neon, the first to be replaced with digital LED. It’s evolved as the medium has evolved, and will continue to do so.”
It will be off for nine months while major redevelopments are carried out, to take advantage of technological advances in advertising, and to futureproof the space for generations to come.
The new screen will be unveiled in the autumn, with a static advertising banner set to cover the space until then.
Six advertisers will share the fully responsive and interactive new screen, taking advantage of its capacity for live video streaming, lifestyle updates such as weather and sports results, and real time social media feeds.