Turning Subways into Stores

as virtual stores in Seoul (partly because they ran out of real estate for new stores). Chinese online supermarket Yihodian.com then installed walls in 15 subway stations in Shanghai. Pandamp;G launched a similar system in Prague with Mall.cz, the Czech Republic’s largest e-tailer.

Now Sears is launchingholiday toy walls in airports, movie theaters, and bus stations in the US.

One implication is that any 2D surface (outdoor, wild posting, ambient, print) can become a storefront. There’s a new choice in these spaces: advertise or merchandise?

But these programs also reveal something about how humans work. Why doesn’t Tesco just use that wall to say, “Shop thousands of products, right this minute, right on your phone”? Why the need to choose 200 or so SKUs and post life-size 2D depictions of them on the walls?

Our brains need familiar schema, comfortable metaphors, and visual stimuli to spur action. It’s why the email symbol is still an envelope, and why ‘the red carpet’ means star treatment, even if it’s two meters long and not very different from the regular passenger boarding lane at Gate A18.