Londoners were left puzzled after Tube station Westminster appeared to be renamed Webminster overnight in a PR stunt. Amazon replaced Tube signs with a new name to advertise the launch of a new London internet service to help businesses.
Scores of confused London Underground passengers noticed the swapped signs and questioned what was going on – with one person joking it was related to Spiderman. Last December, Amazon launched a new clutch of data centres in London to support its extremely profitable cloud service business. You probably don’t care and almost certainly didn’t notice, and so to remedy this situation, Amazon has decided to confuse London’s commuters. The company has temporarily fiddled with the signage in the central Westminster Tube station (“alight for Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament”), changing the name on maps and roundels in the station to read “Webminster” instead. Commuters are perplexed:
One passenger, Ted Pulfer, said: “Can someone explain this? I nearly didn’t get off the tube.” “Had to check my sanity as I passed through Westminster,” said Tube user Jane Hames. Another passenger, called Susan, said on Twitter: “Reading a book about A.I. on the Tube, looked up and saw this. This does say Webminster right?”
— Stewart Signs (@stewartsignsuk) January 12, 2017
Workers grafted through the night to replace the signs, paid for by Amazon. in a bid to promote Amazon Web Services which has been recently launched in London.
— Amazon Web Services (@awscloud) January 12, 2017
^^*The Eagle apologises for the incorrect use of Londoner in Amazon’s tweet*^^
The company’s new service offers secure “cloud computing” – meaning when data is stored and managed online instead of on hard drives. Several signs inside the Circle, District and Jubilee line station were changed including the iconic circular Tube signs as well as the signs lining the platform.
— Tom Bower (@boweruk) January 12, 2017
But some Londoners were not happy. Tony Howat said: “Very, very poor promo. Thanks for confusing tourists.” In April last year Canada Water underground station was renamed Buxton Water on the day of the London Marathon. Transport for London said it was a temporary advertising promotion.
— Gio (@giovannicosta) January 12, 2017
It’s not actually the first time a corporation has bought (temporarily) a slice of the Tube. During the London Marathon in 2015, Canada Water station was briefly renamed Buxton Water. But that at least gets points for being a more straightforward pun, while even the generous-hearted would agree that “Webminster” is pretty groan-worthy. Other suggestions we’ve seen include Bermodemsy (Bermondsey) and Regent Spark (Regent’s Park). Leave your own ideas below if the spirit takes you.
Now Amazon, instead of confusing tourists do two really cool things to impress us: start paying proper taxes on your sales in the UK (they are all sales from Luxembourg) and stop treating your zero hours contract warehouse staff like battery hens. Now that would be well cool!