Coca-Cola sign

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The current Times Square Coca-Cola sign undergoing repairs.

The Coca-Cola Sign is an electro-kinetic sculpture created in 2017 which is located in Times Square, Manhattan, New York City. It stands at 68 ft. tall and 42 ft. wide, and is the latest in a line of Coca-Cola Times Square signs dating back to 1920.[1]

The new sign was installed in 2017, starting with the removal of the old sign in February. Construction of the new sign started in March, and the new sign was finished and premiered on August 8, 2017. Guinness World Records has awarded the sign the title of the "first 3D robotic billboard".[2]

History & Design[edit]

Early Signs (1920-2003)[edit]

The first Coke Times Square debuted in 1920 at 49th and Broadway, with neon lighting being added in 1923. It flashed the words "Drink Coca-Cola, Delicious and Refreshing" and was the world's second-largest electric billboard at the time. This sign was replaced in 1932 with a new sign on 47th Street which highlighted a soda jerk, and was replaced again in the 1960s with a simpler sign that read, "The Pause That Refreshes."[3] By the mid 1960s, the slogan "Things Go Better With Coke" was the latest slogan on the sign.

In late October 1969, Coca-Cola embarked on a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign which at its helm was a new logo for the company, in which the trademark was housed in a square with a "dynamic ribbon" near the bottom. A large electric sign, which alternated the new look and slogan "It's the Real Thing" in vibrant and eclectic red and white color patterns, replaced the previous one, and was a staple of Times Square for over 20 years.

The sign wouldn't be updated again until 1991, with the addition of a $3 million, neon-illuminated display, which featured a Coke bottle as the centerpiece. The Coke bottle displayed was the world's largest Coca-Cola bottle, and the sign featured both daytime and evening routines.[4]

2004 Sign[edit]

The 1991 sign was replaced in 2004 by a new Coke sign. The Coca-Cola Company and MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) selected Brand Architecture's distinctive design from an fifteen design firms from the United States.

The multi-layered billboard had a complex pattern of stainless steel planes and exposed superstructure. The sign's design was inspired by Manhattan's steel and glass monoliths and the frenetic pace of midtown street traffic. The 3-D composition rendered the Dynamic Ribbon Device in both positive form and negative space. The display also offered the possibility of live video streaming across the sign's curvature. Built by digital LED display manufacturer Daktronics and titled "Simply Coke," the sign was covered in programmable Light-emitting diodes and allowed graphics to be displayed.

The sign attained 180-degree visibility by sculpting LED panels around the 8 foot horizontal thrust. Wright Massey, owner of Brand Architecture Inc. and creator of the sign, said, "We realized that a vibrant, simple design would draw focus in the frenzied pandemonium of Times Square. Drawing from recent Coca-Cola marketing research, we found the Dynamic Ribbon Device the best vehicle for conveying key brand values. We wanted a contemporary, authentic statement, full of energy, optimism, and youthful spirit. We wanted our sculpture to inspire consumers on all three emotional levels: head, heart and gut."

During the unveiling ceremony on July 1, 2004, which was also in the middle of an advertising campaign for Coca Cola C2, the sign showed "The Time Machine", a tribute to the past of Coca Cola and New York City, soon after activation.[5][6]

2017 Sign[edit]

The 2017 sign was created using technology and concepts primarily from Space150 and Radius Displays, with additional testing, managing, and assembly support from a multitude of other businesses.[7] It is made up of individual LED-covered cubes that each move independently, and can be programmed to move in several different preset configurations over the course of the day. The content of the ads displayed on the sign can also be altered depending on the time of day, such as during lunchtime.[8]


The video programming displays a series of graphic images that are meant to connect to Coca-Cola consumers on a rational level. Images communicate product names, information related to seasonal promotions, and corporate logos in different languages for visitors to Times Square.

The sign also displays a series of graphic images to elicit moods and feelings from Coca-Cola consumers, related to the conditions in the Square at different times of day and night, and across different seasons. The current display measures approximately 68 feet by 42 feet and contains 1,760 individual moving LED cubes.



See also[edit]