Signs and Wonders No 4: Buses with trailers

WHERE: Bus stops in Old Market Square and Upper Parliament Street
WHAT: Would you be prepared to leave a customised combination of a DVD player and a computer at a bus stop overnight?
Street furniture company JC Decaux is. For seven years, Decaux has maintained Nottingham's bus shelters in return for the right to put adverts on them, and for three months it has had "showscreens" -- interactive displays -- at two city stops.
They play film trailers and other video clips if you press buttons. It dreamed them up with film distributor Buena Vista, and we’re one of only five cities to have them (the others are London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow).
There have been more spectacular advertising gimmicks -- you may remember a Mini hanging from the Plaza hotel, and there's a giant 3D mobile phone on one of the other Old Market Square bus stops at the moment -- but these screens are relatively permanent installations, hanging around to promote several different films.
The vote of confidence in our streets seems justified so far. Remarkably, they claim to have had no vandalism at all, and say 43,000 punters in Nottingham played with the buttons during promotions for Sin City and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"The important thing is to be an asset rather than an irritation," says the firm's marketing director, David McEvoy. Although it may also help that the billboards carry built-in CCTV cameras.
The screens are already booked for another couple of films. Technology-wise, the next big development is likely to be mobile-phone promotions, encouraging those who play with the screens to sign up for ringtones, special offers and the like. It's one thing making bus stops talk to passers-by -- the real trick is persuading the passers-by to talk back.