Some less-informed New York Millennials may be strolling around Madison Square Garden this week and wondering why Clear Channel Outdoor (CCOA) is displaying startlingly simple but arresting images of a boxing glove, a butterfly and a bee over a deep black background with their digital displays at Penn Plaza. In fact, it’s a clever and meaningful tribute to the late Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers and most interesting athletes of the last century who was known to “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” in the ring. On Saturday, June 3, 2016, the world lost Ali to septic shock at age 74 shortly after he checked into the hospital reportedly for respiratory problems.
Before long, residents and tourists in New York gathered to pay their respects to this larger-than-life figure of competitive intensity, spectacle and conviction around Madison Square Garden—the place where Ali took on Smokin’ Joe Frazier in 1971’s “Fight of the Century.” So it’s fitting that Clear Channel designed, sponsored and stationed their primary digital tribute to the boxing legend at Pennsylvania Plaza—the block of shops, hotels and quintessential Big Apple ambience located directly across the street from the venue where the heavyweight champion formerly known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. so often emerged triumphant.
In addition to Penn Plaza, the tribute is running across CCOA’s digital network of almost 1,000 digital billboards around the country including cultural hubs like Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Miami. This is a truly great example of combining picture symbols and placement for content that becomes more than the sum of its parts. The particular occasion aside, this is that sweet spot where art and digital signage converge. The Penn Plaza digital tribute will run through Friday, June 10, and the billboards will stay up until midnight on Sunday.