New York City Advertising Spotlight

With 280 Starbucks shops and 243 walk-up McDonalds in the great city of New York, it’s clear that brands matter. During a recent visit to New York City, I not only fell in love with the many great things to do there, but also with the advertising scene.

Studying advertising in college, I knew that New York was known for its great agencies and campaigns, but I couldn’t completely understand it until I visited the city for myself. In this post, I’ll outline my favorite campaign and more about New York’s advertising.

advertising in times square

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Everyone knows you have to go Times Square when you visit New York City. This area of the city is known for its large billboards and digital displays that light up the streets. For around $2.5 million for four weeks, you can have one of the largest digital displays in Time Square. Covering the entire block of Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets, this high-definition display is 8 stories high and almost the entire length of a football field.

This type of outdoor advertisement is called a “spectacular.” Spectaculars are over-sized bulletins that serve to draw as much attention as possible to a brand. Almost 500,000 vehicles pass through Time Square each week, resulting in very high exposure for brands.

Luckily, spectacular displays aren’t the only media buying opportunities in NYC.

nyc transit advertising

In a city that never sleeps, people are always on the go. While in New York, we made great use of the city’s MTA subway system. The New York City subway system has 468 stations – the largest number of public transit subway stations of any system in the world.

With nearly 5.6 million riders on any given weekday, one NYC resident shared with me that “the subway routes are like the veins of the city. Without an active subway, the city would die.” That may sound dramatic, but it’s true. We may have walked 38 miles in our 3 days in New York, but the subway was also an important tool for getting around to the sites we wanted to see.

Because the majority of New York residents and visitors choose to use public transit to get from one destination to the other, transit advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach consumers in NYC. You’ll find not only in subway stations, but also at bus stops, on top of taxis, and along sidewalks.

my favorite nyc advertising campaign

Our first night in New York City, we took the subway to Times Square. When returning to our Airbnb in Greenwich Village, I noticed a very catchy and colorful set of ads. Lining the entire hallway up to the street was a set of ads for Vitamin Water.

With clever messages that related to the city, Vitamin Water’s transit advertising campaign added a little humor to anyone’s commute. With messages like “let no tourist nor pigeon stand in your way” and “life. liberty. and the pursuit of hustle,” pedestrians were immersed in the brand’s Hydrate the Hustle campaign.

This was my favorite campaign because it uniquely fit the city and culture of New York. Other companies often place the same ads across all media forms and various markets. When Vitamin Water set out to create this campaign, they knew they wanted to connect to their NY audience in one of the most personal ways possible — by showing their ads to pedestrians on their busy and hectic commutes.

Brands do a great job of getting their point across when they make their ads as personal as possible. For commuters in NYC, they understand how much of a headache or obstacle taking the subway can be. By connecting with consumers on this personal level, Vitamin Water shows that they get it. What better way to improve your commute and get yourself energized than with a bottle of Vitamin Water?

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My favorite ads from the Vitamin Water campaign

It’s been waiting for you

If you have never made the trip to New York, it’s certainly a sight to see. Sure, there’s things like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. Although these are all must-sees, don’t discount NYC’s unique ads. Although they may seem a tad commercial, ads are truly a part of the city’s landscape and culture. Even if you aren’t a marketer yourself, you can still take a moment or two to enjoy them.




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