While mayor of London, British politician Boris Johnson tried to sell Apple on sponsoring the ultimately abandoned Garden Bridge — to which the company allegedly said it was willing, if it could have a store on the bridge itself.
Johnson launched a 24-hour "sales" mission to San Francisco in 2013, trying to persuade Apple to sponsor the entire project, The Independent said on Tuesday, citing transcripts of interviews with Johnson aides during a government review. The mayor was joined by deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring, and mayoral chief of staff Sir Edward Lister.
"The mayor felt there was a fair chance that Apple might actually sponsor the whole bridge... So we jumped on a plane," Sir Edward said in November 2016. "We were only there for 24 hours and flew back again. We went there, we talked through it all... It was, 'We do this, we call it the Apple Bridge and you pay for it, chum'. It was a real sales operation to try and sell it."
The London delegation felt the idea of a store on the bridge "was not going to be acceptable," he added.
"Then there was the idea you could build a retail store on Temple [Tube] Station, which was not mad at all. But it then transpired it wasn't really a possibility."
Sir Edward argued that Johnson's group should have brought actress Joanna Lumley, a major promoter of the Garden Bridge, saying that "she could have worked her wonder on them [Apple]."
Current London mayor Sadiq Khan withdrew support for the Garden Bridge in April, following the review's observation that estimated construction costs had ballooned from 60 million pounds to 200 million. By then, 37.4 million pounds in taxpayer funds had already been spent on preliminary work — underwriting the cancellation is expected to take the final tally to 46.4 million. The charity that was set to build and run the structure, the Garden Bridge Trust, formally ended its efforts in August.
Had it been built, the pedestrian bridge would have spanned the River Thames and been lined with vegetation end-to-end. An Apple store in the middle would have disrupted this, but might've fit with the company's own tendencies to use natural elements, such as the groves at Apple Park.