Projects: Morgan Stanley Switches On Data-Driven Times Square Displays

September 21, 2015 by Dave Haynes


The investment bank Morgan Stanley has lit up a very nice, data-driven LED array on the facade of its Times Square global headquarters.

The financial firm worked with UK-based agency Framestore on a series of content sequences that are a blend of tickers, ambient video spots and data integrations.

It is described as data visualization, but that’s a bit of a reach unless you consider showing live market data on a background to be data viz. Not me.

Nonetheless, it’s nicely done.

Says Framestore on its website:

Few locations in the world offer the eminence of New York’s Times Square. Famous for its blocks of dazzling LED advertising, the opportunity to refresh the displays at Morgan Stanley’s headquarters was an exciting challenge for Framestore’s Labs team, led by Director Robin Carlisle and Producer Jonny Dixon. ‘Morgan Stanley was looking for a creative partner to work alongside Bloomberg to deliver something new for their LED screens’, says Dixon. ‘Their previous set-up had been in place for over 20 years, and although the amber ticker was well-known, the technology didn’t allow them to deliver fresh and compelling content. In Times Square especially, there is a need to stay fresh and relevant’.

It was Labs’ work on the Stellar Atrium Project for London Stock Exchangethat caught the client’s eye, and gave Framestore an edge over traditional billboard content providers. Previous projects also include work for BA, and an installation for London’s Tate, sponsored by Bloomberg. Says Director Robin Carlisle of the brief: ‘We knew we had to offer something innovative. The financial sector is an interesting area for us, because, on the face of it, these are not traditionally creative companies. We found that Morgan Stanley were very open to ideas and were very clear on what the company stands for.’

The team built a custom hardware system that would allow Morgan Stanley’s marketers and Bloomberg’s internal creative agency to efficiently create content, to display in Framestore-designed templates and graphics, combined with various data inputs and visualisations. In essence, something new for LED displays of this kind: ‘The feeds, the data input, additional inputs via a CMS – these were simply not possible with the older systems’, says Dixon. ‘We’re moving more into content creation here, integrating corporate videos with dynamic content driven by real-time data’.

Morgan Stanley, working at the centre of global financial markets, wanted the ability to display updated data at all times. ‘The ease of access to interface with the system is key’, says Dixon. The Commodities visualisations, in particular, demonstrate the progression from amber ticker to dynamic content system. Kicking off with oil, gold and corn, the screens will show price fluctuations for tangible goods, bringing the meaning of the markets to a wider audience.

The visuals feature Morgan Stanley’s recently launched Capital Creates Change ad campaign, insights from the company’s latest Research Blue Papers on topics like the future of autonomous cars, and stories about community impact initiatives like the firm’s Healthy Cities initiative.

‘The space is unusual – seven screens, of different aspect ratios and resolutions. The Labs team worked closely with Bloomberg’s creative team to maximise use of the format.’ ‘Previously, the only home for this type of content would have been website’, adds Dixon. ‘Now, it’s got a new stage’.



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