Whether you’re a native New Yorker, a casual city visitor or just a human being on Earth, you’ve probably heard of Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan. Nicknamed the Crossroads of the World, Times Square is known for its extravagant lights and signage.
Last time I was there, I found myself looking from screen to screen, wondering how much, exactly, those advertisements cost. I assumed a lot—Times Square is, of course, one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, and with more than 330,000 people crossing through daily, those billboards are valuable advertising space.
According to the Wall Street Journal, one flashy, digital or neon billboard can cost anywhere between $1.1 million and $4 million a year. Advertising on 1 Times Square—the tall tower located in the middle of the Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersection that the ball drops from on New Year’s Eve—is even more expensive; the owners of that building make $23 million a year on the billboards covering it, making it the most expensive set of billboards in the entire world.
Perhaps instead of dropping nearly $4 million on one billboard, clothing retailers like H&M could invest their money in paying their workers more, or at least securing them a safer workspace. H&M garment workers in Bangladesh, home of the garment factory that collapsed in 2013, killing nearly 1,000 people, are desperate for economic opportunity, but H&M and other retailers fail to enforce wage and labor laws.