Church st elevated

If you, like us, have seen the future, you’ll know that it looks pretty much like now – only with hover cars and more digital advertising screens.

Best not tell Trinity Mirror, eh? Their version of the future (in their words) “sees a new and outstanding communication channel that delivers high impact advertising which consists of highly visible digi-panels revolving through 360 degrees… with faultless video quality that’s superior to television.”

Yes, that’s right… those empty drums scattered down Church Street. The ones that look like discarded hair curlers from the Sea Odyssey girl. The ones that have been dead eyed and silent since 2008.

When the Big Dig erupted, questions were asked: do we want to spend £75 million on tarting up our city centre and leave these big ugly drums sticking out of the spruced up paving slabs? Can we be sure they’ll, ahem, drum up business?

Yes, Trinity Mirror unequivocally said – these drums will animate the streets. “We’ll have videos of footballers kicking a ball to each other from Lord Street to Clayton Square,” they said. What fun it will be. Shoppers will love it…

“Locations have been chosen for their high footfalls and consumer spending power. A two week campaign will be seen upto 2,052,000 times by pedestrians…”

“These highly visible digital display units are revolutionising poster communication in the UK,” they said. “We offer our clients a unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd with eye catching illuminated digi-panels.”

God, it was gonna be like Minority Report. Just outside Primark.

Well, actually, it’s more like ‘Nothing to Report’ and it’s another own goal for Trinity.

So why haven’t they had a single tenant on them in living memory? Why, when the Media Wall outside Lime Street (Europe’s largest) is buzzing with film trailers, and supporting the Council with media campaigns to raise awareness of key events from Hillsborough memorials to Homotopia, are the Trinity drums not beating? Earlier this month, the wall joined forces with similar sites across the world (including Times Square in NYC) in the largest photography exhibition ever staged – reaching an estimated worldwide audience of 46 million over a period of 48 hours. A nice bit of advertising for the city, and proof that these spaces can be used creatively too. If you have someone creative at the helm.

Ocean, the outdoor media company who run the media wall, have seen increased interest, with viral campaigns and interactive gubbins, tracking live digital feeds of passers by for a Virgin Trains campaign. There’s talk of the screen actually increasing in size.

Elsewhere, the BBC Big Screen has proved so popular this summer, with the Olympics, and Vasily knocking it out of the park during the BBC Proms, that City Central BID actually installed some lovely wooden benches and flower pots. Quite what will happen when BBC relinquish the reins of the screens any day now is another matter. Will the council take it over? Or will it be left to the city’s creatives to animate the space?

Elsewhere, Forever 21, the brash new American clothes superstore set to open where the Barratts shoes building stood, is about to put in a planning application for a huge, wrap around digital wall – which will link shoppers in Church Street, in real time, with stores around the world (a first for the store, and a world exclusive for Liverpool – if it gets past the planners).

Ocean, the media screen people, have invested in new sites in Manchester, and are looking at upgrading Liverpool’s massive pink one.

In other words, the future is bright. You’ve only got to disembark at Euston to see how deeply digital outdoor has embedded itself into the culture, and capital, of London.

We’ve got a suggestion. If they’re not being used, why not offer these drums up to the city’s independents on the run up to Christmas? Come on Trinity, you’ve just appointed a new head of regionals, with a salary of £350,000, plus a bonus of up to £280,000. Oh, and you’ve just let go of more talented people in your hapless Happli daily deals programme (late to the party with that one, weren’t you?). Why not, instead of running the city down every night with your lurid headlines, offer a positive platform to boost trade, help local community projects and brighten our streets?

Just think: how much did all that cabling alone cost for the silent sentinels? Get them animated. Let the city’s creatives show you just how bright the future can be. You might have turned a blind eye to them – City Central Bid haven’t. They want you to use them or lose them.

So: is it time to roll out the barrels?

Feature pics: Electric Avenue

  • Dan

    The Lime Street display looks fantastic. But that’s enough now. Any more and it won’t be long before Liverpool starts to resemble the dystopian future city in Blade Runner.

  • andyohare

    I think the Church Street drums are silent because they’re broken. Video quality superior to television??? Maybe the B&W portable in my nan’s caravan in the 1970s. When they were running, looking at them for more than a few seconds was enough to bring on a migraine, and there was diesel exhaust coming from the top!

  • John Maguire

    Boosting local arts,organisations and traders would be an ideal way to stimulate and generate positivity instead of being simply a mass of blank canvases.