Now normally I have a visceral, knee-jerk allergy to advertising in pretty much any form (and I don't even drink Coke, see sidebar), but I have to admit that I have some love for that Coke sign.
It was so old and janky and never worked right! Half of the lights seemed to run on Lucas three-position switch technology (off, dim and flicker) and it was a different half almost every night. I have long had this fantasy that the reason the sign always looked like that is that there is only one guy left in the world who knows how to fix the mechanical relays that drive its pattern logic, and that guy is 95 and has trouble getting up and down the ladder to sweep the birdshit out of the contacts with his vintage Nineteenth-century wire brush.
That's how it is in my head, anyway. If the reality is not actually like that, then I don't want to know.
But anyway, replacing it with a slick, modern LED facimile? Feh! I shake an angry fist.
Then the LEDs started flaking out in a similar, but different, way to the old neon tubes! The quality of the light still wasn't the same, but at least it eventually reverted back to "janky-assed and un-maintained", which was what was charming about the original version.
At least there was that.
Is this Cyberpunk? I guess it might be: ubiquitous technology that doesn't work. This giant TV screen on the side of Moscone has been running a halfassed implementation of "Mismunch" since about a month after it went up. Why do they even leave it powered up? Maybe nobody remembers how to turn it off.
When it first went up, they played this panoramic movie on it that was timed so that as the sign crawled its way around the building, it looked like the video was a stationary window into a room full of giants. Stock-photo-model-businessman giants. It was kind of cool.
Ever since then: ten years of Munching Squares.
A new life awaits you in the Moscone Colonies! Press any key to continue.
We spoke with a representative of the sign's maker at YESCO Bay Area, who confirmed that the sign is being removed permanently, when asked what would become of the sign, he said, "Coca-cola's contract stipulates that it be destroyed after removal."
It is not clear why Coca-cola is removing its famous, neon billboard, one that has stood 112ft above San Francisco since 1937. Perhaps it's because commuter traffic is down in the Bay Area by 20% due to the pandemic, or maybe it's because of San Francisco's very vocal, anti-soda stance and 2016 Soda Tax, which charged everyone an extra tax for buying sugary drinks. This tax raised millions of dollars over the last 4 years by the way, $1.65 million of those soda tax funds are currently being used to provide emergency food for people affected by COVID-19).