The Mayor has just announced a sponsorship deal for the Thames-spanning cable car in east London: it will be branded as the Emirates Air Line.
The 10-year deal, as you might have gathered, is with Emirates, the airline that also lends its name to Arsenal's stadium. The company has coughed up £36m for the rights, which is a little over half of the project's estimated £60m*. Remember, of course, that Londoners were originally promised that no public money would go into the scheme. The shortfall is coming from our rail budget — an area which, as we saw this week, needs some serious investment.
Rather like Barclays with the cycle hire, Emirates have also been allowed to appropriate the roundel for the cable car's logo. The announcement also included the news that the cable car route, and the Emirates / roundel logo, will also appear on the Tube map, with a 'Emirates red' streak linking the two stations. Additionally, the two stations will be named "Emirates Royal Docks" and "Emirates Greenwich Peninsula". It's not quite the first time that corporate branding will appear on the map (Ikea got there first) but it's a huge move toward sponsorship all the same. And it might not be the end of corporate sponsorship on the Tube map: earlier this year TfL very nearly cut a deal to temporarily re-brand Oxford Circus after a wine company.
For Emirates, it looks like a steal: they'll get their logo all over London for a relative pittance. Much like Barclays, in fact.
Here's a video fly-through showing how it'll work. It does look quite cool, although the video is a bit dry — we'd love those Taiwanese animators to have a crack at it.
So: what do we think about the "Emirates Air Line", and will anybody actually use it?
*We originally stated, incorrectly, that the projected cost was £57m