Home Subway Advertising Photo of the Day: Video ads take over Columbus Circle

Photo of the Day: Video ads take over Columbus Circle

by Benjamin Kabak

Big Brother-style video ads line the concourse at Columbus Circle. (Photo courtesy of New York City Transit)

For the past few years, the MTA has engaged in a comprehensive overhaul of the 59th St.-Columbus Circle station. The renovation was originally supposed to wrap in 2009, but like many a TA project, it didn’t finish on time. Instead, work continued until one day, it stopped. There was no grand ribbon-cutting and nothing to announce substantial completion of the project.

Lately, though, the MTA has been putting some of the station on display. Sol Lewitt’s work adorns the station, and straphangers can once again use the middle platform on the IND platform. Still, it seems as though something is missing. Early renderings of the project, for example, called for a retail corridor in the vast hallway before fare control that stretches north from 57th St. underneath Eighth Avenue. As of yet, no one has taken out space.

This week, the authority unveiled a comprehensive, if temporary, use of the hallway: It is a 60-foot digital video ads. A release from the MTA explains:

This week, Asics unveiled a stunning new advertising campaign featuring high-definition digital video at Columbus Circle, which serves the A/B/C/D and No.1 lines. Although the video is 60 feet wide and spans the length of 26 glass panels, it appears seamless—as if it’s being projected across one incredibly wide screen.

The campaign is a win-win for the MTA and Asics. For the MTA, the campaign represents yet another way we’re thinking creatively to find new revenue streams that help fund our transit system. For Asics, the massive, coordinated “screen” vastly expands the possibilities of traditional advertising. For instance, at one point the ad asks, “Think you can keep pace with an elite marathoner? Ryan Hall is approaching in …” Numbers then countdown from ten to one, at which point an image of marathoner Ryan Hall runs across the glass, in real speed.

As the MTA proclaims, customers can even try to outrace Ryan Hall. It is “the first time digital video has been done on glass panels and the first time digital video in our system has been done on this scale,” the authority noted. As Times reporter Michael Grynbaum observed on Twitter, it’s all very “Blade Runner-y.”

Yesterday, I rode a shuttle train decked out top to bottom, inside and out, in advertising for Dell computers. Today, video ads follow us through 59th Street as exit the system. As the MTA struggles to make every dollar count, advertising is truly everywhere. The revenue, as Squire Vickers once said, is a balm for hurt minds.

The video boards stretch throughout the Columbus Circle station. (Photo courtesy of NYC Transit)

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BrooklynBus November 3, 2011 - 9:35 am

With all the MTA retail space that remains vacant for years before being rented and thus not earning revenue for the MTA I am wondering if they are routinely pricing these spaces above market value? Why isn’t the Comptroller checking this?

SEAN November 3, 2011 - 10:06 am

Brooklyn bus, what would market value be for such spaces. I realize location matters, just asking in general . Thanks.

BrooklynBus November 3, 2011 - 7:47 pm

I wouldn’t have the faintest idea. I just think when a realtor sees he can’t rent space within 6 months, he ought to start thinking about changing the terms of the lease or lowering the asking price.

I think some or all of the space at Coney Island terminal after it was renovated remained vacant for three years. Some may still be vacant. I think that’s just too long. Apparently the MTA is looking to attract a certain type of clientele, but it seems that the only ones who can afford the rents they charge are the large corporations.

I remember the barber shop that used to near the stairway in the Fulton Street station and I don’t see anything wrong with those types of businesses, but apparently the MTA does.

normative November 3, 2011 - 1:54 pm

ahh private advertising in public space, corporate vandalism at its finest!

SEAN November 3, 2011 - 2:30 pm

Is it any worse than TV?

JP November 3, 2011 - 7:17 pm

“As the MTA proclaims, customers can even try to outrace Ryan Hall.”

… except they tell us time and time again not to hurry, as it accounts for slips, trips, and falls.

can the MTA afford to invite lawsuits?


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