Madrid will rename its landmark Sol metro station “Sol Vodafone” under an advertising deal with the British mobile operator to raise millions of euros in the recession, officials said on Wednesday.
The regional government said the rest of Line 2 on the city’s underground rail network — the red line on the map, matching Vodafone’s corporate colours — will also bear the name of the company for the duration of the three-year contract.
“It is the first time in Europe that an entire metro line changes its name based on a commercial deal, generating new forms of income,” it said in a statement.
Signs for Sol station will be rewritten as “Sol Vodafone” from June 1 and signs along the rest of the line will read “Line 2 Vodafone” from September.
The station entrance stands in the heart of Madrid on the Puerta del Sol square, the symbolic hub of protests against politicians’ handling of Spain’s economic crisis over recent years.
A metro spokesman who asked not to be named told AFP the transport company would receive three million euros ($3.9 million) over three years under the advertising deal.
This would boost the metro’s annual advertising revenues by 10 per cent, he added.
Last year the company received more than 10 million euros in advertising revenue “despite the general fall in the advertising market in Spain”, the Madrid government said.
Line 2 is used by 122,000 passengers a day, it said.
The spokesman said a trial project last year, when Sol bore the colours of Samsung’s new phone model Galaxy Note for a month, had been well received and the company did not expect major complaints about the change to the iconic station sign.
“Of course there will be opinions of all tastes. It cannot please everyone, but we do not think there will be a negative reaction from metro users. It is a way of gaining revenue,” he said.
Like the other 16 autonomous regions of Spain, the conservative government of Madrid, run by Spain’s governing Popular Party, is waging fierce money-saving efforts to stabilise the public finances.
Madrid’s plans to privatize health services and cuts to public sector pay have sparked angry protests, including strikes by metro workers.
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