Pictures take you places – At the Zurich Main Station

Posted on July 30, 2010


It’s late afternoon and I’m heading to my evening class. I step out of the train, hop on one escalator, then another one, and as I emerge distractedly into the main hall of the Zurich main station, I pick up an annoying sound, distinct amongst a see of human ones. An orange blob in the corner of my left eye catches my attention, and I look up to see what I first think is a man at work, suspended onto an overhanging billboard. It takes me a few quizzical seconds to realise that the man is a manikin, that he is not fixing anything and he’s holding a vacuum cleaner, also responsible for the persistent noise.  

(Nope, this is not a shot taken from above…)

I watch as other commuters emerging from underground have my same startled reaction. It seems to take everyone a while to realise that it’s just a siemens advertisement. During the course of the year I’ve seen many an ad blown up to huge proportions on this seemingly enormous billboard which are shoved into the distracted train traveller’s face as he makes his way up from the platforms, but none were, I must admit, as entertaining as this one, or for that matter, worthy of me going back the next day armed with camera and with a future blog post brewing in my head.

I know that this ad will soon lose the luster of its novelty, so I do hope it doesn’t stay up too long. In the meantime, I’m left to wonder what I’ll have to look at in the coming months when this ad’s space time runs out  – another atrocious Burger King ad where a beautiful woman in a sexy pose looks as if she wants to make love to a freaken burger, a classic shot of a smart man holding an expensive Swiss watch which no one seems to be able to afford any more, or the ubiquitous ad for chocolate. I’m in Switzerland after all, so I’d definitely expect the last two…but a suspended Vacuum Cleaner man? That was a welcomed surprise, despite the fact that I’ll eventually end up dreading the site of it.

Has anyone spotted this clever billboard display anywhere else in the world? Let me know.

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @