North America’s Busiest Mall Plans Big Digital Upgrade; Seeking Sales Proposals

Eaton Centre is a very large urban shopping mall in the heart of Toronto, just on the edges of the central business district. 

The mall has been around for decades and steadily evolved. It is not quite as ritzy as Yorkdale, which is well away from downtown, but Eaton Centre’s high profile location and huge foot traffic attract a lot of premium retailers. Owner Cadillac Fairview calls it North America’s busiest shopping center, with 50 million shoppers annually.

The mall has put together plans for a big, very impressive digital refresh, and has produced a video (see below) that shows what is in the works – including a massive high-rez LED board on one of the bulkheads below the venue’s iconic glass atrium.

It has also, interestingly, made an announcement that is effectively putting out feelers for a media company to sell all these flashy new media positions.

Says a press release:

As an industry leader in innovation, Cadillac Fairview (CF) continues to identify new ways to drive an enhanced in-property experience, and today announced plans to create an immersive digital platform that will enable brands to create distinct advertising and engagement opportunities within North America’s busiest shopping centre: CF Toronto Eaton Centre.

This first of its kind plan at CF Toronto Eaton Centre will activate the country’s largest in-mall digital experience along the east facade of the shopping centre’s galleria. Currently in design review, full plans are set to be unveiled this summer.

Leading up to this work, Ravel by CF (Ravel) – a global digital platform that connects people with experiences from inspiration to delivery, today issued a call for proposals, to seek an innovative partner to undertake national sales of its dynamic digital media network.

Ravel is a spin-out and effectively the innovation arm of Cadillac Fairview, which is a big property developer.

The CF network, which spans shopping centres and office towers coast-to-coast, is the largest bilingual digital network in Canada. The selected partner will be responsible for seeking clients who are excited to push the boundaries with digital-out-of-home media within physical brick and mortar spaces, including at several iconic landmarks within Canada’s most recognizable cities.

At Ravel by CF we are committed to transforming the consumer journey, creating personalized and immersive in-property experiences for our diverse consumer segments that includes delivering relevant, eye-catching content through our exclusive digital media offering,” said Jose Ribau, Executive Vice President, Digital & Innovation, Cadillac Fairview. 

“Digital out-of-home technology continues to be a sought-after and effective medium for brands to provide real-time omni-channel marketing experiences. Through our portfolio of best-in-class properties and the digital capabilities within them, we have the power to bridge the best of the digital and physical experiences, providing limitless possibilities for partners and brands who want to maximize reach and connect with communities across Canada.”

CF attracts more than 260 million shoppers across its portfolio, including one of the largest, most visited shopping centres in North America, CF Toronto Eaton Centre. CF’s pre-eminent retail and office experience is heightened by its emerging digital capabilities that allow for timely, seamless and impactful integration and maximum visibility. Interested in joining?

Ravel will be accepting tenders from March 16 to April 24. Interested participants can request bid documents by emailing [email protected].

I do NOT know if this tender is entirely for media sales, or also or separately for the tech. The full tech plans won’t be ready until summer, which suggests LED companies and integrators will have a shot, still, at making a pitch.

The video suggests the jumbo LED wall, which would replace a series of big print lightboxes (I think), is transparent LED. Using a mesh product would greatly reduce the weight load on the structure, and perhaps negate a lot of reinforcement engineering needed to hold a wall of conventional LED cabinets.

I also don’t know if Cadillac is putting out the capital for the tech, which will not be cheap, or looking for bids on that from media companies. I know from really direct experience in Canada that the big property companies like to have a media company spend the money on the screens and just take a revenue share, but I think that’s a model that is evolving.

If you look at NYC’s Times Square and some high-traffic areas in LA, property groups are now making the investment and just getting a media company to sell it. Costs more upfront but they get, maybe, 75% of the media revenue, instead of 25%.

Based on the video, this will be very impressive when done.