Piccadilly Circus in London is a famous road junction and public space of London’s West End. It’s a junction of 5 streets and at the center of the Circus stands the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. On top of monument is a nude statue of an archer, sometimes referred to as The Angel of Christian Charity and popularly known as Eros. Piccadilly Circus and Eros became London icons, Eros even became the symbol of the Evening Standard newspaper.

Evening Standard's logo with Eros

But there’s another thing about Piccadilly Circus worth mentioning. It’s one of the most recognizable advertising slots in the world. The first illuminated billboards were installed in 1895 and Piccadilly Circus was once surrounded by advertising signs and posters on buildings. That created London’s version of New York’s Times Square, but now only one building carries them. It’s one in the northwestern corner between Shaftesbury Avenue and Glasshouse Street, which is currently occupied by Boots, Gap and Barclays.

Piccadilly Circus on one summer night in 2005 (photo by Erik R.)

The advertising slots are operated by Land Securities and currently include six illuminated advertising screens: Sanyo, Coca-Cola, TDK, McDonald’s, Samsung and Piccadilly Lite. Coca-Cola has been on the display since 1955 and Sanyo since 1978. After 33 years Sanyo decided that it’s enough and they won’t renew the contract with the operator. The reasons behind the decision are currently unknown, but perhaps it has something to do with the Panasonic’s recent acquisition of 50.2 % stake in Sanyo, which made Sanyo a subsidiary of Panasonic. Consequently the brand name of Sanyo Electric Co will be terminated in April 2012.

Piccadilly Circus from the movie Wayne's World 2 (1993, Paramount Pictures, screen capture)

However, Piccadilly Circus will remain one of iconic sights of London and a premier advertising space. Apparently 56 million pedestrians and passengers pass by that space every year. That figure consists of 34 million pedestrians; 17 million people in coaches; 2.6 million taxis and 2.4 million cars.

Piccadilly Circus was of course part of several movies, e.g. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Wayne’s World 2, 28 Days Later, An American Werewolf in London, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows …

Piccadilly Circus from the movie Bridget Jones's Diary (2001, Studio Canal, screen capture)

Although we could hardly say that the Piccadilly Circus is a magnet for set-jetters (there are many more interesting sights in London for that type of tourism), its neon and LED signs give London additional attractiveness.

Well, Sanyo is dead. Long live the next one.

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