2012 Best Retail Deployment: Digital Signage 


Project: Westfield Olympic Mall London
Client: Westfield Shoppingtowns Limited
Submitted by: Esprit Digital

Brief overview of the project/technology:

Westfield Stratford City is the largest shopping centre in Europe and is the gateway to the Olympic Stadium for the 2012 games. As such, its success is key to the company’s overall global strategy with both its retail partners and the millions of visiting customers it will attract every year. The scale of the site, the build quality and the internal finish demanded an outstanding digital signage network to complement it.    

Being one of the largest construction companies in the world ensured that Westfield were not short of potential partners or competing technologies for this project. Following a hotly contested tendering process, Esprit Digital were awarded the contract to design, supply and install giant video walls and other digital signage throughout the complex to show a combination of in-house marketing messages, brand-partner content and live-streamed news coverage. 

Objectives of the deployment or the technology:

The client brief was essentially quite simple – maximum visual impact, best value, seamless integration, 100% reliability, low running costs!      

The visual impact was created by a total of 355 Samsung 46” Ultra-Narrow Bezel LCDs which at the time of purchasing were considered to be good value, reliable, low power consumption, well colour-matched and bright enough for the 5 years they needed to be written down over. Bespoke-designed steelwork to interface between the construction site and the digital displays was required for each Video Wall, including specialist bracketry to allow for easy maintenance of each individual screen. 

Of the 17 video walls and other screen types, the main operational problem was, as usual in public environments, heat management - how to keep all of the individual components running well within their specified tolerances. This was achieved without air-conditioning by clever metalwork and bracketry design, high-spec componentry and expert installation.    

The biggest engineering problem was without doubt the 102-screen video wall which had to be hung 10m above the main concourse on a cantilever steel structure and we needed it to be double-sided with rear access. This had never been done before using multiple LCD screen technology and a small army of Esprit engineers were onsite to ensure a successful installation by synchronising several motorised platforms. Additionally the video had to be stretched across 17 displays and this was achieved by splitting it into multiple desktops.    

We were also tasked with delivering double-sided freestanding marketing units that were just 75mm deep. Our extensive thermal management knowledge allowed us to use two 55" panels back-to-back to make our "Wafer" the thinnest digital poster of its size in the world.    

As well as the screen technology, Westfield wanted to be able to stream live content to the screens when hosting live events with the key driver being the Olympic men's 100m final being shown on all screens as it happens. Managing screens throughout the mall, linking them back to ip video feeds from hd-sdi signals and synchronising sound with video along the mall proved a very challenging part of the installation and this had to be seamlessly integrated with advertising content updated by the onsite marketing staff.

Results achieved relative to the objectives:

"Esprit Digital were appointed to deliver the digital signage strategy for Westfield Stratford City, an obvious partner given the requirement for technology that was both quickly available in large quantities, sufficiently robust for a shopping centre environment and capable of being designed into the infrastructure of the building. Westfield had no previous experience of managing their own digital network in the UK, and Esprit worked with us to overcome the obstacles of a large construction project against exceedingly challenging timescales while advising on all aspects of the project to ensure all the large format video walls were fully operational for the launch on 13 September.      

"The Bulkheads were a particular challenge as they had never previously been implemented on such a scale before. They included the enormous 102-screen 5-ton monster outside John Lewis, and all screens were designed and installed sympathetically to the architecture of the building. Showing a combination of Westfield marketing messages and brand-partner content, these displays have been very positively received. Esprit's installation teams worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure the success of the project and we have employed them again to deliver the same solution for our London White City site". --Chris Lynham, Westfield Shoppingtowns, National Account Manager - Mall Retail, Brand & Media

Size and geographic location(s) of the deployment:
  • 10-off 4x3-screen Bulkhead Displays above each of the main concourses
  • 1-off 5x5-screen Wall in the cinema foyer  
  • 2-off 9x3-screen Walls one above the other outside Marks & Spencer
  • 1-off outdoor IP rated 6x3 screen outside the metro entrance  
  • 1-off 17x3-screen Double-Sided Wall outside John Lewis  
  • 12-off double-sided 55" ultra-slim standalone ‘Wafers’ which are moved around the centre  
  • 4-off internal and 6-off external wall mounted 55” digital posters
All screens are used constantly during the centre opening hours.

Selected judges’ comments:
  • Impressive; size alone is captivating; valuable messaging.
  • A technically challenging and very high-profile project delivers a range of screen types well suited to their locations and footfall characteristics, complemented by simple but attractive messaging. It's hard to imagine that the mall operator could have hoped for anything more.
  • Very impressive. Combining branding, merchandising and augmenting of the on-site environment has been well done.
  • Good use of signage to promote stores, promotions and multiple brands in an entertaining way. The mall was able to address the complex offering of all the stores to promote key products. The use of static imagery, animation and video provided multiple messaging opportunities. The placement of signage was deliberate to customer paths.
  • Now THAT is an installation that I would like to see in person. Awesome.
  • An impressive, multi-screen, facility-wide deployment that solved several significant engineering challenges. 

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