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Emirates Airline Slaps Its Name on Two London Underground Stations

May 11, 2012 at 12:50 PM | by | ()

Emirates, the world's 8th best airline according to some survey that someone invented, has been on a tear to raise its global profile.

The "fast-growing" airline recently expanded to Dulles and has been pushing Boeing to manufacture more and more airplanes. Even their in-flight magazine is reportedly doing well.

Wait a minute, you might say that this point. The Emirates PR people actually got a journalist to do a full writeup about their magazine? Yes. And not only that, but that's not even the most obnoxiously aggressive publicity stunt the airline has recently pulled. It turns out that Emirates is sponsoring a cable car and two London Underground stations in London, for a period not less than ten years.

"Sponsoring" here means exactly what you think it means: the airline is putting its name on the stations, as if the Underground was some kind of random baseball stadium. Travelers and locals looking at the venerated London Underground map will now see stations labeled "Emirates Greenwich Peninsula" and "Emirates Royal Docks." See above.

Purists regarding London history and architecture and nostalgia, suffice it to say, are not pleased. The entire thing feels like "a minor commercial encroachment" opines the Economist, also noting that "minor" is a bit of an understatement. The Underground map was created by Harry Beck in 1931 and never—not once—has had the name of a corporation appeared on the illustration.

That said, it's not as if the London Underground wasn't already a place where corporations push themselves on commuters. Almost every square inch of wall is covered with advertisements, from the terminal, down the stairs, and on the platform. We know because every time we see QR codes on platform ads—which is every time we stand on an Underground platform—a little part of us dies inside. So the entire Underground is already covered in corporate billboards and posters. Why should the maps themselves be any different?

Still, it does kind of feel a little bit sad, doesn't it?

[Photo: The Economist]

Archived Comments:


Seems unlikely that Emirates would expand to DCA - an airport with no true international service (pre-clearance only) and runways too short to handle widebody aircraft (which is all Emirates flies). Seems like you mean IAD.


Yep--a slip! Fixed.