If you like engaging with brands AND using the London Underground, you’ve got a very exciting Christmas present coming! Westfield shopping centres are apparently sponsoring a “Christmas themed station renaming” according to Hello London, TfL’s ‘advertising partnership’. What’s actually being renamed and what it will be renamed to are, as yet, a fun seasonal surprise, but presumably we can expect something along the lines of “White Christmas City”, “Rudolph The Red-nosed Stratford” or “Buy Loads Of Stuff From Westfield Shopping Centre Central”.
This isn’t the first time London Underground have dabbled with this idea – for the 2015 London Marathon Canada Water station briefly became Buxton Water and in 2011 Oxford Landing wine made an unsuccessful bid to do the same to Oxford Circus. But with TfL’s government grant set to disappear by 2018 and the Mayor committed to a fares freeze, there’s more incentive than ever to start flogging off naming rights, for the right price.
London’s not the first city to get on board the brand train – in the last 5 years Madrid’s Sol station has spent time as ‘Sol Station Galaxy Note’ and ‘Vodafone Sol’. In the US, Philadelphia’s Pattison station has been officially called AT&T station since 2010, while Cleveland has a bus service sponsored by local hospitals, the HealthLine. But the world leader is the Dubai metro system, which has been only too happy to flog off station names – several are named after banks – because they’ve managed to cover over 60% of the their running costs through such deals.
In the UK the closest we’ve got to this before now are the signs at train stations that boast “Earlsfield, home of [insert name of local letting agency here]”, or infamously, “Cambridge, home of Anglia Ruskin university”. Bonus points also for the pub that has sponsored signs at Gravesend station that read “Gravesend: We know how to entertain!”, and the a lapsed sponsorship deal at Winnersh Triangle that led to amended signs that just read “Winnersh Triangle: Home of Winnersh”.
You’d hope whoever came up with this was given the rest of the month off. Image: Geograph
Of course, tube stations have been named after businesses before: it’s just that previously that those businesses were generally pubs that predated the existence of the station by a couple of centuries (i.e. Swiss Cottage, Royal Oak, etc). Or were Arsenal football team. But now you can pay for it, so Heinz Canning Town, Burger King’s Cross St Pancras, and Wimpy India Quay, here we come!