NEW YORK – The crossroads of the world is now home to the world’s first and largest 3D robotic sign. Coca-Cola this week unveiled a new six-story digital spectacular in Times Square featuring 1,760 independently moving LED screens, choreographed to the content on display – creating a multisensory experience for the 300,000 people who pass through the busy Manhattan intersection each day.
Nearly 100 years after Coca-Cola installed its first sign in Times Square, fans had the chance to experience the towering installation on Tuesday through a pop-up, interactive seating area inspired by the sign’s moving LED modules. Throughout the day, the seating installation released a refreshingly cool mist as brand ambassadors distributed ice-cold Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Life.
“From the beginning, our brief was to create a pause-and-refresh moment in the crowded environment of Times Square,” said Kim Gnatt, group director, Business Strategy, Coca-Cola North America. “Our proprietary 3D technology brings our iconic brands to life in a unique and differentiated way that will hopefully catch people’s attention and make them want to engage for a longer period of time.”
From its pioneering use of painted wall murals in the 1890s, to iconic neon spectaculars in Piccadilly Circus in London (pictured below) to King’s Cross in Sydney, Coca-Cola has always been at the forefront of outdoor advertising innovation.
This continues to be true. Guinness World Records™ was on site for the sign’s debut and awarded The Coca-Cola Company with two record titles: “The Largest 3D Robotic Billboard” and “The First 3D Robotic Billboard.”
An Engineering Feat Four Years in the Making
Coca-Cola saw the opportunity to refresh the Times Square landmark, which was last updated in 2004, with proprietary, first-of-its-kind motion technology. Coca-Cola R&D, IT and Marketing teams, and a multitude of partners, spent four years designing, testing and fabricating all components.
“Times Square is an iconic American landmark and the epicenter of outdoor advertising, so we wanted our new sign to be unlike anything ever seen before,” said Katie Miller, vice president, Connections, Coca-Cola North America. “This summer’s ‘Share an Ice-Cold Coke’ campaign is all about togetherness, so we saw the opportunity to use this very valuable and visible real estate to celebrate with a broad cultural cross-section of people through an experience only Coke can deliver.”
The 68-ft. by 42-.ft. sign required sophisticated engineering and rigorous testing for all weather conditions. Every high-resolution LED cube is programmed to independently extend and retract, extending out into the crowd and bringing the company’s portfolio of beverages to life in a way the team hopes will inspire thirsty onlookers to crave an ice-cold Coca-Cola.
A full calendar of content includes Coca-Cola advertising from around the world, fully customized for the sign. The company will tailor programming for two primary audiences – New York City commuters and tourists – and refresh the creative based on time of day or day of week. For example, passers-by may see a Coke-and-meals clip just before lunchtime.
“Similar to how you create a music playlist for your day, we have the ability with this sign to build a 24-hour playlist of content that’s important to our brands, and timely and relevant for our fans,” Gnatt said.
Coca-Cola’s first Times Square sign was installed in 1920, making it one of the world’s longest-running billboards and helping the colorful crossroads earn its reputation as the global hub of 24/7 advertising. The new sign extends the legacy of Coca-Cola consistently raising the bar for outdoor marketing.
The Coca-Cola sign in Times Square was last refreshed in 2004.
“Since Coca-Cola’s first appearance in Times Square nearly a century ago, the brand has been a leading innovator, from creating one of the famous intersection’s first neon signs to being one of the only installations with a nighttime light display in the early 1990s,” said Coca-Cola Archivist Ted Ryan. “Times Square – like Coca-Cola – is timeless and connects people from all walks of life.’”