Having just returned from meeting my Alentejo client Delfim Costa, and our new importer Adele Capela (Value Vines) in New York City, my Times Square experience is still swimming around inside of my head.

First of all, the last time I was in Time Square experiencing it was in the 1980s.  Jose and I traveled there for years, so he could attend the annual New Music Seminars, during our Rock n’Roll radio days. We stayed at the Marriott Marquis, during the year it had opened. The Marriott Marquis’ theatre wasn’t even finished, and the only billboard in the square was the one-and-only one on the New York Times building. I left the hotel headed for 5th Avenue, looked up at the Times’ billboard and off I went to buy the pants that would later wow Rod Stewart back stage. (They were awesome, of Turkish origin… I got a sense from the way Stewart looked me up and down, that he may have wondered where he could get a pair, too.) It was all pretty simple, and very rock n’roll, with the Times Square billboard just becoming a memory.

The times that I’ve returned to New York since then, I’ve not gone near Times Square. I’ve recently been hearing David Letterman talking about the city turning it into a park, but thought he was joking… for the most part. I couldn’t even fathom what he could possibly be taking about. Now I know… And for me, it just blew my mind.

If you’re a wine marketer, you need to pay attention. Times Square likes to distinguish itself as a laboratory for new ways of advertising. If you’re not on top of this one, you’re not on top of your game.

  1. Times Square has fulfilled its prophecy… Times²
    • What was once one billboard on The New York Times building, has grown to become billboards completely surrounding visitors on every single square inch of the neighboring buildings. You can turn in any direction for blocks, and now see some light emitting diode screen, flashing something at you. It’s actually illegal for a billboard not to be an LED screen.
  2. This is the marketing center of the universe.
    • If you have something to sell, this is where you need to spend some of your advertising dollars.
  3. Visitors come from all over the world.
    • The average person is exposed to 5,000 advertising messages a day.
    • It’s estimated that 1.6 million people pass through Times Square each day, with 276,000 of them actually working there.
  4. The audience is willing to stand and/or sit (in the bleachers, like this is some kind of spectator sport) for hours.
    • The captive audience doesn’t seem to mind that they are only there for the ads.
  5. Occasional shows keep the audience thinking that they’re not being marketed to…
    1. They are.
    2. If Madonna (for instance) is visiting MTV, she’ll wave to the camera, and people on the street know that she’s close by in a studio station, then, they’re absorbed by many more advertisements.
  6. This is reverse TV.
    • Constant advertising with occasional content (concert, exerts from movies, Broadway, etc.)
  7. If you advertise in Times Square, the world knows that your brand is important.
    • We’re still all judged by the company we keep.
  8. If you make it there, you can still make it anywhere.
    • Nothing’s changed with this old advice statement.
  9. A collective marketing effort for any group would have great impact.
    • Imagine “Rutherford Dust” coming up on a screen… I’d begin to wonder what that was all about.
    • Now, fill in the blank for any regional advocacy group, including my own (PS I Love You)
  10. When I advised Concannon Vineyard to put up an image of Jim Concannon, announcing his lifetime achievement award from the California State Fair, it was money well spent.
    • A couple of years ago, I thought about Jim Concannon and his family’s contributions to the American wine industry. I nominated him for an award with the California State Fair. They honored him for a Lifetime Achievement Award.
    • I made sure the world knew.  Jim was completely humbled. I was completely honored, and still am, to work so closely with him. Seeing him image in Times Square, along with people from all over the world… Well, he made it there and I knew he deserved to be there.

From Brand Autopsy: Advertising on Times Square:

  • The annual Times Square billboard business is estimated to be $69 million
  • CPMs range from $2 to $5 (prime time TV CPMs are around $20)
  • Times Square draws 40 million annual unique visitors (about 14% of the U.S. population)
  • It is estimated more than 100 million keepsake photos are taken in the area
  • If Times Square were an Arbitron market, it would rank #152 between Rockford, IL and Flagstaff, AZ.