The new LED screen installed outside Sogo department store in Causeway Bay.

HONG KONG – Department store Sogo has unveiled what it says is Asia Pacific’s largest LED outdoor screen, installed on the facade of its flagship store in Causeway Bay.

Facing Hennessy Road, the screen, called Cvision, began operating on Oct. 27. It measures approximately 19 meters by 72 meters (62 feet by 236 feet)—covering a surface area of more than five full-sized tennis courts. 

“Since its inception in 1985, Sogo Hong Kong, the city’s largest department store, has become an important cultural landmark in Causeway Bay and a must-go retail destination for tourists and citizens alike,” said Alfred Cheng, head of sales & marketing for the company. “The launch of Cvision further cements Hong Kong’s status as a world-class metropolis and demonstrates our relentless push to innovate and adapt in the digital age.” 

Powered by Mitsubishi Electric, the screen produces exceptionally vivid colors with a 50 percent deeper contrast than that of conventional LED screens, parent company Lifestyle International said. Eave-like louvers allow for an 80-degree vertical viewing angle, nearly double that of conventional screens, to maximize street-level visibility.

The Sogo department store screen under construction.

The Sogo department store screen under construction.  Tiffany Ap

The screen’s operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, extended for an extra hour in the evening on weekends. Its audio output will range between 5 to 8 decibels above the ambient noise level, in accordance with government regulations, with auto sensors adjusting to the environment.

Sogo in Causeway Bay has served for decades as a well-known shopping landmark for both tourists and locals alike, although its low ceilings and concession format show signs of age.

Last year, the store accounted for nearly 87 percent of company sales, although it experienced a 6.7 percent year-over-year drop. The sales decline decelerated to 1.5 percent in the first six months of 2017. The company blamed the two-month renovation of its supermarket for the fall, saying it affected not only the groceries business, but traffic to other departments. 

Jonathan Cummings, chairman of retail consultancy Fitch Hong Kong, said the screen is unlikely to see other malls and retail players follow suit.

“I wouldn’t call a giant screen a trend by any means,” he said. “I think it’s important to look at this as a one-off initiative from Sogo to develop their presence and brand in the Hong Kong market. On that basis, it will certainly reinvigorate the brand and dial up their presence in one of the world’s busiest shopping districts. However, I would question the impact of such a large screen in a relatively narrow street. I haven’t seen any studies, but the viewing angles will be quite acute compared to somewhere like Piccadilly Circus in London or Times Square in New York City, which are famous for their giant screens.”

While it will be useful for generating noise and exposure, “perception of their brand, especially amongst a younger audience, will be based on what happens inside the store and online,” Cummings said. “It can be considered a step in the right direction only if it is a part of a wider omni-channel strategy.”

Lifestyle International has plans to build a $1.7 billion complex spanning a shopping mall and department store in Hong Kong’s east Kowloon, scheduled to open at the end of 2021.


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