Here it is, the cross-roads of the world, the home of New Year’s Eve…just about 12 hours too soon.
This is the place to see and be seen…at least if you are a brand. It makes me feel like I’m living inside a game arcade like Wreck-It Ralph. When your brand has reached Times Square it is part of the establishment, it’s Broadway.
Often companies will have a celebration here when their own billboard lights up, or when they appear on the NASDAQ billboard. It’s a marketing event. A global stage.
For the cutting edge of branding you have to go elsewhere — off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway. Times Square is NASDAQ, Sony, Samsung, Mini, American Airlines Theater, Marriott, Duncan Donuts, Pepsi, HBO…
This is deliberate, of course. The city mandated the huge billboards during the Redevelopment of Times Square in the early 1980s. Yes, that’s right, the city that outlaws smoking in Central Park and buying sodas larger than 16 oz has insisted on packing this area with billboards.
My first New Year’s Eve in Times Square was 1978. It was a very, very different place. The word “sleaze” was coined to describe the area. It was the perfect setting for a punk-rock movie about a girl band named, yes, The Sleaze Sisters in the 1980 movie Times Square (sound track with songs by The Pretenders, Talking Heads, Ramones).