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What Will They Think of Next?

I’m amazed at the lengths advertisers will go to sell their product or image. It was bad enough that we had to see billboards for decades. Then in the 90’s adverstisers began covering entire city buses with advertsements (versus just having a small ad on a side panel of the bus).

Also in the 90’s, it seems that concert venues and arenas started getting corporate sponsors: Great Woods became the Tweeter Center, the Boston Garden’s new building became the Shawmut Center, then became the Fleet Center, and is now in the process of becoming the Bank of America Center. It’s tragic. How can you refer to the National Car Rental Center (in Florida) with a straight face? It sounds more like the place you go to pick up your vacation rental vehicle as opposed to a place to see the latest Britney Spears concert.

But yesterday, I found a new form of advertising that really struck me as clever. I was riding the red line subway inbound between Harvard Square and Central Square when I noticed that a movie was playing along the wall of the dark tunnel. Actually, it wasn’t a movie, technicaly. My guess is that it’s like animation. There must been images lined up side-by-side along the tunnel wall that are each slightly different. With the train moving fast, it becomes animated. So I was able to watch a Royal Carribean cruise ship sailing towards the subway car I was riding. At first, it felt very surreal – I thought I was seeing things. But then just as quickly as it started, it was gone again.

It made me think of a 1920’s movie reel. The continuity wasn’t as great as you’d get with modern film or video. It seemed primitive – like a 1920’s silent movie reel with an old fashioned projector creating a somewhat strobe effect. But it got my attention. And until the novelty wears off, I don’t think I’ll mind this new form of advertising. Actually, it may not be that new. It’s probably been going on for years in other cities (or even months in Boston) and I just haven’t noticed.

But I’d rather the MBTA incrase revenue this way so I don’t have to worry about arriving at the Burger King Station at Kendall Square (the subway recently even considered corporate sponsored naming rights to the actual stations as a way to boost revenue…which would have meant brand names for each station along with the geographical name of the station). I can see it now: the K-Y Jelly Back Bay/South End Station. Has a nice ring, no?


  1. Comment by Michael C. on September 3, 2004 10:31 am

    I saw the new ad in question last week and was rather astonished. It was a pretty surreal experience, and I have to admit begrudgingly, pretty cool. But I’m sure they’ll grow tiresome when they’re everywhere.

  2. Comment by chris on September 3, 2004 10:54 am

    when you come to NY next weekend, note the xtra large flat-screen tv placed above the entrances to the subways playing nothing but commercials…or the animated commercials placed atop taxis.

    ive become really tired of the hyper-comercialism lately. branding absolutely everywhere. when o when will the backlash begin??

  3. Comment by David on September 3, 2004 11:15 am

    you could rent out space on Dusty and have her wear tiny sandwich boards when you taker her for a walk

  4. Comment by Underling on September 3, 2004 11:41 am

    Here in Oklahoma City we used to have an arena called the Myriad. Then they renovated it and decided to give it a new sorporate sponsor name. Now the 12 year old inside of me giggles anytime someone mentions the “Cox Convention Center”.


  5. Comment by Erica on September 3, 2004 12:09 pm

    They just began, actually – I read about it in the Globe with mixed feelings. I totally agree that this is better than both fare increases or commerical T stop names, but still – it’s commercialism invading yet one more area of our lives. Pretty soon (someday) they’ll go through with their plan of making cell calls on the T work, and then there’ll be no quiet, either…. There are fewer and fewer refuges, it seems.

  6. Comment by Scott on September 3, 2004 12:33 pm

    They’ve been doing that movie-in-the-subway-tunnel thing in Paris for about 10 years. Weird huh?

  7. Comment by chris on September 3, 2004 1:38 pm

    yeah in barcelona, they have tv screens that tell you how long it will be before the next subway train comes. but you have to wait through commercials to see that information.

  8. Comment by David in Chicago on September 7, 2004 5:05 pm

    Huh. How odd. We have a Tweeter Center in Chicago, too. Well, it’s actually just south of the city. It used to be the World Music Theater. I wonder how many other places also got re-named “Tweeter Center”.

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