Big Apple Dazzle

It would have been easy for the Walgreens’ new outpost in the heart of New York City’s Times Square to go unnoticed amid all the hustle and bustle. Instead, the drug store chain rose to the challenge with a dazzling exterior that employs advanced digital-signage technology—including the nation’s largest electronic sign—to stand out in the crowd.

The new Walgreens is located at One Times Square, the legendary building from which the New Year’s Eve ball drops. The exterior of the three-level, 16,000-sq.-ft. store features a state-of-the-art digital sign that soars 341 feet above the street on three sides of the building. The display serves as an impossible-to-miss, giant electronic billboard for the brand.

“With more than 1.6 million passersby and countless media impressions daily, this sign represents a tremendous opportunity to catapult Walgreens’ brand among the most recognizable icons in the world,” said Greg Wasson, president and COO, Walgreens, Deerfield, Ill., which operates 6,544 stores nationwide.

Gilmore Group, a New York City-based brand consultancy, conceived and designed the massive electronic billboard. D3 LED, New York City, manufactured and deployed the technology for the display, which uses advanced high-resolution graphics. ABC News Media, a unit of ABC National Television Sales, is Walgreens’ exclusive sales representative for the sign.

“The screen’s content will change daily and by the minute, and the content will be very rich,” said Craig Sinclair, divisional VP of corporate advertising, Walgreens.

The programming will include paid advertising along with Walgreens branding and animated interstitial material. The content can be scheduled remotely or on site.

“The sign is actually made up of 29 separate surfaces, with three large LED displays on the exterior of the west and east elevations, and one large LED display on the south side,” said Jason Barak, managing partner, D3 LED. “The display is designed so that a message travels all around the building, starting at the bottom and ending at the top. It engages you to watch it go around the building.”

The massive sign contains 12 million energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs), spanning some 17,000 sq. ft. The diagonal stripes extend 17 stories on the east and west sides of the building. They are preprogrammed to display synchronized messages and images, including brand advertisements, 20 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.

In addition to the mammoth electronic billboard, the store features 13 60-in. plasma screens at street level. The signs offer a variety of advertising options for Walgreens’ suppliers. L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive are among the initial advertisers.

According to Barak, the digital display is unusual for Times Square, both for its engaging design and the fact that most of the other digital displays in the area don’t have a retail outlet below.

“It’s one of the few displays of its type where you have an anchor tenant that can leverage its store brands and create advertising opportunities as well,” he added. “It is really breaking the mold in digital advertising and will ultimately redefine the segment.”

Visit http://www.chainstoreage.com/digitalStudioPhoto.aspx for more views of Walgreens Times Square.