OOH Industry Vet Reviews State Of Times Square LED Boards, And Gives It A D+
April 22, 2022 by Dave Haynes
Out of home and display industry veteran Alan High periodically sends me an email with his industry impressions, and often his phone camera shots, from travels into New York City. He’d not been into Manhattan in 18 months, because you know why, and in his latest observations, says much has changed, and not all of that change is good.
The epicenter for Digital OOH in NYC is Times Square, of course, and the former ClearChannel OOH exec was dismayed by the level of construction there, and how that impacts ad screens.
“I’ve never seen so much disruption before, including blocking of some of the screens. This is not ideal, and I’m sure advertisers are not happy,” notes High.
High was also surprised by the state of some of the screens in what is about as high-profile and important as locations get in the US media landscape. His other observations:
- There are lots of LED displays being refurbished or replaced. Not sure which, but it seemed like way too many to me.
- Creatives should stop using white on LEDs. Don’t these advertisers ever learn that white is the hardest color to replicate with an LED, and is the first to go? It’s also the most damning when a module goes. I’m starting to see lots of purples instead of whites!
- You can clearly see the dirt around the modules on most signs, and some are far worse than others. Boards need to be cleaned on schedules, but it doesn’t appear that anyone is doing it, or maybe they have resigned themselves to accepting dirty boards while construction carries on?
- Media companies are doing too much self-promotion. We used to cringe at billboards having a phone number in the middle of an unsold board. Unfortunately lots of this is happening in Times Square. Frankly, they can do much better than simply putting up their logo. The only thing missing is the word “available” with a phone number! C’mon guys, let’s at least make an effort to entertain the tourists.
- Public Service – What really shocked me was the complete lack of public service ads. When I walked into the area I expected to see lots of messaging for Ukraine, but did not see anything.
- No one is really making an effort to do funky and interesting storefront signage – again a great opportunity missed at street level.
On specific boards:
- Marriott Marquis – good job or partitioning the sections. Looks a little busy to me but overall “job well done.”
- The New Tradition board ( I think that’s 1 Times Square ) looked great. I did not see any partitioning on this board. Might be tough longer term selling this position, as the vertical creative would be awkward for many marketers.
- The Coca-Cola board has ceased all of the module movements (editor – this is the ill-conceived boards that had robotic movements built-in). However, the colors are beginning to fade badly and the Coke Red looks very washed out. This board is in rough shape!
- American Eagle – It’s holding up well for an older board, with good creative.
- Gap/Old Navy – What a spectacular opportunity missed!!. They have store frontage in one of the most expensive commercial real estate areas in the world and they do that!! LED’s aren’t that expensive any more and, if done properly, would have enhanced their frontage and image ten-fold. Still shaking my head on this one.
- ABC board holding up very well. That sign has to be 8-10 years old now.
- Morgan Stanley gets my vote for the best board in Times Square. There’s a nice color mix, they used their space well, and the boards were clean and bright.
Overall, this is not the same Times Square I remember. Audience levels were about 1/3rd of what you would have seen two-three years ago. Maybe it will come back, but all the stakeholders need to step up their game if they want this to remain iconic for the OOH industry. It’s anything but that right now.
If I was grading the overall effort right now, particularly with creative, I’d maybe hand out a D+.