CAMPAIGN REPORT ON EUROPEAN MEDIA: Great city sites - Advertisers are using spectacular city poster sites to create maximum drama and impact, Richard Cook writes



The Harbour Towers site in Barcelona might not have the discreet charm

of the Ramblas but it has two things the old town sites will never have

- its sheer size and a panoramic view over the low-lying buildings of

the historic districts, ensuring spectacular visibility from the


The towers form an important part of the wholesale redevelopment of this

picturesque city that took place before the 1992 Olympics. In fact, they

are the centrepiece of the gondola, which connects the harbour with the

hill of the old town. Behind one tower is the World Trade Centre and the

tourist area of Maremagnumi. Together, the towers present at least 3,900

square metres of advertising space. The site claims an annual audience

of more than 15 million people from the gondolas alone.

’Barcelona is the most desirable city in Spain for advertisers because

of the profile of its inhabitants and of the tourists who visit, but

it’s not the easiest place to source this sort of site,’ one seasoned

international buyer says. ’Multiple sales are commonplace and the really

spectacular sites can have seven or eight contractors attached to them

in some sort of nebulous way. You can get what you want, but you are

going to have to talk to a lot of people before you do.’


There isn’t much debate about what is the finest poster site in the

rejuvenated city of Berlin. Indeed, the site at the Berlin Monument

dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche has a good claim to be the

most spectacular poster site in the world right now, not just because of

its remarkable size - 2,350 square metres and with a height of 52 metres

- but also because of its spectacular location.

The Kaiser Wilhelm monument is situated at the end of a main street in

the heart of the city and the poster site is located on the tower of the

monument. A minimum lease of one month means that availability is not

the problem that it might be. That is not always the case elsewhere in

the city, though, or indeed in many of the other emerging European


’Nowadays, there’s not such a problem with companies occupying the

prestige sites for ages,’ explains Michael Segrue, managing director at

the international poster specialist, Poster Publicity International.

’Everybody is worried about appearing as wallpaper and wants to use

these dramatic sites to make an immediate impact, to get the PR going

and then to move on. Levi’s picked some of the most spectacular sites in

Europe for Sta-Prest as part of a complete TV, cinema and PR campaign

designed to make a real splash.’


The Cromwell Road has its adherents and the boarding that surrounded the

British Library during its tortuous construction was a long-term

favourite among the capital’s temporary sites, but if you want a really

spectacular poster site in London, then it simply has to be Piccadilly


In addition to the sites on Piccadilly Circus itself is a new

illuminated site on the corner of Glasshouse Street - adjacent to the

Samsung Neon Supersite - which is 162 square metres and is sold with six

months maximum availability. It’s not hard to see the attraction of the

position - it has a traffic flow of 2.3 million per week and the

pedestrian flow of 4.2 million per week is ABC1 rich. Better still, only

13 per cent of passers-by are commuters, while more than 50 per cent are

in the West End for entertainment purposes and have spending rather than

work on their minds.

And Piccadilly Circus is still one of the world’s few permanent landmark

sites. Additional exposure on TV programmes, films and postcards is all

but guaranteed and availability is not the problem that it was in the



Sometimes the most spectacular sites are the temporary ones. They offer

advertisers one-off access to an area that city planners would never

sanction as a permanent hoarding. One of the most remarkable current

examples is the illuminated Largo del Tritone at the Piazza di Spagna in

Rome. Although fairly modest in size - at 120 square metres - the use of

illumination on a scaffolding site is relatively rare and adds to the

element of surprise that the site’s location engenders. The Via del

Tritone is one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the city centre

and the site is in front of both the tunnel that passes under Parliament

and the entrance to Piazza di Spagna.

However, availability is more problematic in Rome than in many other

European capitals, not least because of a certain confusion over


’One problem across Europe, which seems to be as bad in Italy as

anywhere and which especially affects temporary sites, is the fact that

you will be approached by three or four different people who all claim

to own the site,’ one poster specialist says. ’What they really want is

your client’s signature so that they can go to the authorities and cut a

deal with them. These are also the people who are likely to ask for

largely fictitious ’administration fees’ and such like.’