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Bond Street station advertising shows scope of public space commodification

For one week, London’s Bond Street station was renamed ‘Burberry Street’ to advertise the fashion house of the same name. It caused outrage and shows how public spaces are increasingly being used to aggressively advertise.

Commuters in London were left confused last week when Bond Street station was changed to ‘Burberry Street’ in collaboration with the fashion house of the same name.

Complaints were sent to TfL by travellers who were befuddled during their journeys. Anonymous staff members said that customers had reported missing their stops, with one commenting to the New York Times, ‘I heard all different things, but nothing positive unfortunately.’

Bond Street’s name change was quite extensive, too. Signs on the platform were swapped out, as well as travel maps by escalators and the outside sign on the high street.

This advertisement change seemed to be particularly confusing, as Burberry sounds like it could be a real stop.

Bond Street is also right by Oxford Street, which is a hotspot for tourists and one-time visitors. How are unfamiliar train-goers expected to know they’re at the right platform when all the directional signs are presenting blatant misinformation?

The unanimous backlash and deserved criticism exemplifies London’s growing problem with increasingly invasive advertisement. As Zoe Williams from The Guardian writes, the Burberry Street fiasco is evidence of ‘corporation creep’, whereby public spaces are treated as marketing opportunities rather than communal services that aid public life.

We can see this commercial approach in other areas of London life, too.

Festivals and corporate park events are constant, for example, and usually always require a paid-for ticket that prevents local residents from using their own community areas for their intended purpose. Many parks now have private events for large portions of the summer, leaving spaces either useless or extremely limiting for the people they were intended for.

As London’s rent prices increase and the cost-of-living spirals indefinitely, it seems that larger cities and capitals are focusing less on local, grassroots culture and instead prioritising wide-reaching commercialism. Why bother respecting the validity of community spaces when there is no genuine residential culture to be found?

The Burberry Street uproar may seem like a light-hearted head-scratcher, but it is indicative of a much wider problem with how public spaces are treated. Their logistical purpose becomes secondary to corporate potential.

London is already oversaturated with advertisements – this feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back.