London Underground’s Bond Street tube station has been temporarily renamed “Burberry Street” as part of the British luxury brand’s London Fashion Week marketing campaign, causing confusion among Londoners and tourists.
The signs, which were erected to herald the opening of Burberry’s redesigned Bond Street flagship store, lasted from Friday until late Monday and early Tuesday, according to TfL staff, and sparked disorientation Lots of complaints from customers.
Several uniformed staff members declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to news media. They said customers reported missing stops because the signs were in Burberry’s new bright blue color.
“Honestly, I’ve heard all kinds of things, but unfortunately nothing positive,” one staff member said. “People said, ‘Why is this happening?’ That confused us. We saw ‘Burberry Street’ so thought we were in the wrong place.”
TfL said the event was one of several involving the temporary renaming of tube stations in recent years.
A statement said: “While the station is branded ‘Burberry Street’, in-car announcements, in-station announcements and staff on the platform will be available to assist passengers if they need it.”
A spokesman for Transport for London declined to comment on how much Burberry paid for the advertising campaign, but said the proceeds would be reinvested in London’s transport system. TfL has been grappling with rising inflation and operating costs 5% higher than last year, according to the agency’s latest financial report in July. According to the report, passenger travel volume is 89% of pre-epidemic levels.
A 2013 report written by Conservative members of the London Assembly recommended renaming London Underground lines and stations through sponsorship deals as a way of increasing revenue for London Transport.
Burberry did not respond to a request for comment.
Natasha Radcliffe-Thomas, professor of marketing at the British College of Fashion, saw the signs while traveling on the Elizabeth Line at Bond Street station on Monday. She said the location of the advert confused her because many tourists traveling to and from London Heathrow Airport use the station and not everyone is aware that Bond Street is associated with high fashion brands.
Still, the event generated buzz for Burberry and London Fashion Week, which has struggled in the years since the pandemic hit, she said.
“It’s a very smart idea for Burberry to associate themselves with other London icons because they really want to market their British heritage and Londonness,” she said. “But maybe they can do it a little differently.”
Silvia Bellezza, an associate professor of marketing at Columbia Business School who studies luxury fashion brands, described Burberry’s campaign as a success.
“They probably take into account that some people will be confused or maybe lost, but people are talking about it and for many people, that’s the goal,” she said.
Searches for “Burberry” on Google Trends in the UK, a metric used by brands to measure their success in reaching consumers, surged on Tuesday, she said. She added that the campaign was “instagrammable”, with people looking to take selfies next to the “Burberry Street” sign, helping to bring the 167-year-old brand to life.