The New York Wheel could usher in a new era in outdoor advertising when it joins other iconic structures along the New York harbor in 2016.
The Ferris wheel, which will be erected in Staten Island near the ferry terminal, is expected to attract up to 4.5 million visitors per year, according to developers. If current plans materialize, the wheel will be bigger than the London Eye and the world's largest, Singapore Flyer.
Sponsors will get more than just their name slapped on the New York Wheel, said David Taggart, managing partner at M4 Media & Marketing, which is assisting in selling the naming rights. The 625-foot structure is being designed as a social experience that extends beyond the actual 38-minute ride.
"The old sponsorship model, where a brand's name is just associated with a structure, is disappearing," he said. "The wheel is a hybrid play beyond just an outdoor-naming opportunity."
Technology and social media are playing a crucial role in the design of the wheel. Developers are in talks with Google to use its technology, like Google Glasses, to offer riders an augmented-reality experience. Carts will feature touch-screen glass to add to the multimedia experience, which could incorporate brand messaging. A New York Wheel app will provide information on the structure, as well as on the metropolitan area, and could serve as another advertising platform.
But developers are most focused on the social aspects of the New York Wheel. The site will be wired and equipped with all forms of technology, including cameras and tablets. "By allowing riders to share their experience, we are extending the reach globally," Mr. Taggart said.
He expects the wheel to generate billions of impressions annually for its sponsors. New York Wheel is in talks with potential naming partners in the financial services, beverages, telco, airline and consumer-electronics/technology sectors for what would be a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal, though the seller would not be specific on prices. Most prospective partners are household brand names, Mr. Taggart said.
The wheel will run on renewable energy, also presenting opportunities for partnerships with sustainable-energy companies, he said.
Aside from the wheel, the project will also include an exhibit hall and flight deck where riders will wait to board -- another area for branding opportunities -- plus retail and display space throughout the nine-acre site.
Mr. Taggart expects to have some committed sponsors by the beginning of the third quarter. Construction of the wheel is slated to start in mid-2014 with a target opening of mid-2016.