Starting this week, the red neon glow of the “Coca-Cola Spectacular” — the iconic, circular sign in downtown’s Five Points district — will be switched off as the display is dismantled.
But it’s only temporary. The sign, which stretches 33-feet across and and serves as a not-so-subtle nod to Coke’s origins in the neighborhood, will undergo upgrades, according to the company.
By January 2020, its glimmer will return in full, 24-hours a day glory. Currently, the glass neon bulbs have one setting: bright. Which means it has to be powered off at night. However, it will soon be equipped with plastic LED bulbs, which can be dimmed and will be illuminated constantly.
The plastic bulbs will also make the sign lighter and more energy efficient, in addition to allowing for a full-color display on the screen beneath the circular sign, which the company uses to promote products and shoutout its Atlanta ties. (The message board has previously displayed messages like, “born in Atlanta on May 8, 1886” and “Coca-Cola’s hometown”).
“It will be an even bigger and more valuable marketing asset for us,” said Justine Fletcher, archivist, The Coca-Cola Company. “We will be able to share our brand advertising and company messaging in crystal-clear resolution on a prime piece of Atlanta real estate.”
The sign, which currently sits atop the Walgreens building at 25 Peachtree Street, has existed in various iterations for decades. The original was a three-part sign, consisting of a message that was rotated monthly, a 9 foot-tall neon trademark and an illuminated display of current events.
It hung in Margaret Mitchell Square from 1932-1981, where it was a fixture during New Year’s Eve celebrations and displayed weather forecasts year round.
It’s been in its current location — notably not far from the former Jacob’s Pharmacy, which first served Coke in 1886 — since 2003.
“It’s an iconic sign in an iconic location… thousands of people pass by it every day and expect to see this shining symbol of Coca-Cola in our hometown,” Fletcher said.
According to The Coca-Cola Company, the new sign will be built, installed and operated by DeNyse Companies, which is based in Douglasville. The company will be tasked with monitoring the bulbs for outages and replacing any burnt out bulbs within 24 hours.
In addition to the Atlanta sign, there are also versions of the illuminated display in cities like London and New York. In 2017, Coke revamped its 68-foot tall sign in Times Square, by equipping it with 1,760 moving LED screens.
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