With a well-earned reputation as a global hub for creative excellence, London is arguably the destination for any advertising or media professional thirsty for a cocktail of creative buzz and hungry for fresh food for thought to get their creative juices flowing faster – or in new directions. But where do you start in a city that has just about everything for just about everyone?
Perhaps you got your hands on a ticket to Advertising Week Europe or one of the many other industry events that gather international advertising professionals in London, one of the oldest and most established advertising territories in the world. For decades, ad agencies were clustered around Soho, a vibrant little pocket of central London known for its lively bar and restaurant scene. While many ad agencies have branched out to other London post codes, Soho’s busy streets are still well worth a visit for a taste of London’s multifaceted buzz – and the packed pubs are not a bad call if you’re hoping to strike up a conversation with industry fellows.
A short walk from bustling and neon-light heavy Soho will take you to Piccadilly Circus. This is the place for an intense brew of red busses, black caps, crowds of people – and the billboard, a Piccadilly Circus staple as iconic to the grand junction as the gin in a good old after-work pick-me-up at the pub. Just like London town, the now full-motion billboard has evolved since the first light bulb version featured the first ads in 1908. Using recognition technology, the displayed ads are determined by the passing cars and pedestrians – an impressive sight that is always adapting and being shaped by the crowds, much like London itself.
One city, many faces
With a population of over nine million people representing all pockets and corners of the world, it’s little wonder that the capital is an endless source of inspiration for both work and play. London’s diversity, size and endless attractions can take the breath away from even the most experienced sightseers. A walk down the South Bank offer views over Big Ben, London Bridge and other ancient landmarks that blend in with modern skyscrapers such as the Shard and the Gherkin, perfectly illustrating one of London’s characteristics and charms: the ever-present contrasts between old and new, ancient and modern, traditional and innovative.
But the city treats its visitors to much more than galleries, museums, walking tours, river cruises, parks, markets, and cuisines from all around the globe. Neighbourhoods and villages have each their own distinctive identity well worth discovering. East London may be old news by now, but more and more people still head to Shoreditch, Dalston, Hackney, Stoke Newington and the likes for the bohemian vibe, creative edge and eclectic feel oozing from the street art, creative studios, art galleries, artisan coffee shops, co-working spaces, pop-up shops, food markets and thriving start-up scene. Do not miss Broadway Market and a stroll along Regents Canal if you go on a Saturday.
Head down south to Peckham for an equally refreshing yet different feel. The multicultural and artsy vibe is unmissable here, in what’s claimed by many to be the new cool kid in town. A multi-storey car park that has been converted into every Instagrammer’s dream (#rooftopbar), a flourishing creative scene, and railway arches that house hip bars and breweries might have something to do with it.
Need to catch a break and let all the impressions sink in? Follow the example of the locals and head to the pub. Old-school, quirky, microbrewery or gastropub – London is never short of options.