Destination: London

From the moment you step off the plane at Heathrow, to the second you walk into ExCeL London, your journey to FESPA 2013 will be full of print inspiration.

As the largest international event for wide format print, FESPA 2013 promises excitement, innovation and inspiration for its 23,000 visitors and 650 exhibitors. But the inspiration doesn’t begin and end at the doors of ExCeL London. It starts as soon as you arrive in London.

If you land at London City Airport, you’ll be sipping your first coffee and swapping your first business card at the show in ExCeL within ten minutes. But if you arrive at London Heathrow—12 miles west of central London—you have a fascinating journey ahead of you, which takes in some of the world’s most famous centres of creativity and its finest examples of print use.

It’s a Wrap!

If you jump in one of London’s world-famous black cabs, don’t be surprised if it’s not actually black. The ubiquitous taxis are often turned into mobile ads, with vehicle wraps ranging from a simple product name to a complex social media push. Either way, the designs are so bright, it’s unlikely that you’ll miss them.

If you are travelling into central London by cab, your driver will probably take you along the A4, the busiest ‘A’ road in Europe. Over a million people travel along this road every week, which is why it features the UK’s most in-demand billboard site. Situated on the Cromwell Road section, a huge variety of brands such as Nike, Samsung, and Sony Pictures have used the 75 meter-long billboard to bring their campaigns to life using 3D builds, 2D cut-outs, bespoke effects, and custom lighting.

Media Central

Once past Cromwell Road, you’ll head through the wealthy avenues of Knightsbridge and towards the media Mecca of Soho. This is where a number of publishing houses create the country’s leading business and consumer magazines, forging opinion and influencing the influencers. 

London’s creative industry is the capital’s second-largest sector, generating over £20bn per year and employing over 400,000 people. Many of these people are based in Soho and nearby Fitzrovia. Take a walk across Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping thoroughfare, and up Charlotte Street and you’re within a stone’s throw of world-famous ad agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA, and Starcom MediaVest.

Some of the world’s most global iconic campaigns have been dreamt up here—think ‘Hello Boys’, ‘You’ve been Tango’d’ and ‘Does what it says on the tin’—so take a while to savour the creative atmosphere (and a quick pint at one of the area’s many Victorian pubs).

Visitors to FESPA 2013 wanting to know more about the relationship between design/creativity and print should take a trip to the Creative Corner. The conference will address key topics providing tips on design for print applications for creatives and brand owners, as well as opening up the relationship between PSPs and end users. Among the line up are some of the biggest names in advertising and design including, Coca Cola, McCann NY, Ogilvy, and Unilever.

Picture Perfect

On your way to FESPA 2013, take a quick detour across Waterloo Bridge, where you’ll find one of London’s largest outdoor advertising spaces—the cylindrical IMAX theatre. Situated in the middle of a fantastically busy roundabout next to one of London’s busiest train stations, the 120m by 14m site is seen by over 1.5m people every week. Little wonder global brands such as Vodafone, Samsung, D&G, and Nike have used it to stunning effect.

Wander east along the Thames path and you’ll soon come to the imposing Tate Modern. Built just 12 years ago from the shell of a former power station, the gallery is now the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year. Like FESPA, the gallery has a truly global outlook, hosting acclaimed works by artists including Lichtenstein, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Rothko, and Mondrian.

Bridging the Gap

If you head back across the river via Blackfriars Bridge, you’ll soon come to Old Street, one of the capital’s most exciting areas for new technology. Dubbed Silicon Roundabout, this is the place for new start-ups, digital innovations and interactive creativity.

While the internet is obviously central to most of the ideas flowing around the area, print still has its role to play, and many businesses are exploring how outdoor advertising can be linked with the digital space to make campaigns much more effective. Some of the ways it can do this include augmented reality, QR Codes and Near-Field Communication, and many leading experts in these technologies are based in East London.


As well as technology, East London boasts some of the country’s top fashion designers. Achingly trendy since the 90s, when many of the capital’s up and coming artists upped sticks and moved the area, Hoxton is now an explosion of creativity, from street art to gastronomy, interiors to nightlife. 

But it’s fashion for which many now make the move to EC1, creating and wearing the boldest and most eye-catching textile prints. The industry contributes nearly £21bn to the British economy, and it’s currently one of the most vibrant and exciting sectors in the world. Take a walk around Hoxton and you’ll soon see why. Visitors looking for inspiration and the latest know-how in garment decoration, should take a trip to FESPA Fabric where the latest technologies in textile will be on display as well as hands on workshops and conference sessions.

Store Wars

Just one more stop on your way to FESPA 2013, and it’s to the Westfield Stratford City shopping centrere. Situated a javelin’s throw from the Olympic Park, Westfield is pure heaven for the committed shopper—and a fantastic opportunity for brand advertisers.

As the largest urban retail development in Europe, the center is immense. It covers 1.9 sqm and features over 300 stores, 70 restaurants, a 17-screen cinema, and a hotel. All this brings with it some serious outdoor advertising, with over 100 sites alongside four larger format sites.

Then there are the shops themselves. The list of stores reads like a Who’s Who of retail giants, all competing for the estimated 4.1 million consumers in the center’s catchment area. Competition this hot means a serious amount of POS print. 

Final Stop

Finally we come to the end of this tour around London, and you’re deposited safe and sound at the doors of ExCeL for FESPA 2013. Let’s hope you’ve got some energy left, since this year’s event will be one of the most enlightening—and profitable—yet. As one journey ends, another begins…