The historic advertising hoardings of Piccadilly Circus are going dark this January for the longest amount of time since World War II. Come the Autumn, we will see the current screens replaced with Europe’s largest single digital screen, which will retain its renowned curved shape, surface area and its ability to have a patchwork appearance. With a greater than 4K resolution display, Piccadilly Lights (as they are called by owners Land Securities) will have one of the highest resolution LED displays of this size in the world, capable of live video streaming, lifestyle updates and real time social media feeds – a modern marketeer’s dream.
Piccadilly Lights have only previously gone dark during WWII and for special occasions such as Earth Hour and the deaths of Winston Churchill in 1965 and Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Advertising has long been featured on the facades of buildings at Piccadilly Circus as it’s always been one of London’s major thoroughfares. 1908 saw the first electric sign appearing and Perrier and Bovril were the brand pioneers thus illuminated.
So popular was this method of promotion that the hoardings spread over far more buildings than they do today and covered The London Pavilion, first lit by incandescent light bulbs, then neon lights, before moving onto digital and LED displays.
So where did the name Piccadilly come from? Apparently, it’s named for a tailor from 1626 – one Robert Baker – whose shop sold piccadills or piccadillies (a kind of stiff collar) hence Piccadilly. The circus part denotes a circular traffic junction and was created in 1819 at the junction with Regent Street and for a time, was known as Regent’s Circus. It lost its circular form in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue.
Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.
The Curve image, courtesy of Land Securities. The postcard imagery courtesy of London Bridge Hotel’s Postcard Archive.