Like Clutter? You’ll Love Heathrow

If your travels take you through London’s Heathrow Airport, prepare for an onslaught of sales messages, each one competing for ever-smaller slivers of your attention. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, they’re opening a fifth terminal with “more advertising than almost any airport in the world.

The numbers are astounding, especially as they compare with current major US airports:

From giant billboards overlooking security lines to television screens in the underground train station, the ads have been positioned in ways BAA hopes will make them impossible to avoid. There are 333 billboards or posters and 206 flat-screen TV sets, which can change ads to target specific flights. By contrast, Los Angeles International has 34 advertising TV sets in the entire airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International has 40, according to JCDecaux, a Paris-based specialist in outdoor advertising that was hired to design and sell the new Heathrow ad space to marketers…

Typical Terminal Five visitors will see between 50 and 120 ads, depending on whether they arrive at the airport by car or train and whether they fly domestic or international flights, says Julie France, U.K. managing director of unit J.C. Decaux Airport. That’s at least one ad every two minutes and 55 seconds, based on the two hours and 26 minutes an average traveler spends at Heathrow.

One ad every two minutes and 55 seconds. Our brains aren’t getting any bigger, are they? How are consumers supposed to process all of it? If this idea makes it to our shores, how are advertisers supposed to break through?


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One thought on “Like Clutter? You’ll Love Heathrow

  1. Phil, you’re absolutely right. It’s a nutty idea…let’s take an environment wherein people are utterly starved for information (flight delay, weather, alternate travel options, finding loved ones in an era of no-curb waiting, etc.), yet use every available surface to broadcast at them meaningless stuff. Imagine if the technology were used to send useful info to people…I wonder if it would actually help the brands so interested far more than letting them blather on about nonsense at passing travelers? I’ve pondered this a bit at DIM BULB if you’d like to check it out: