Wednesday, 22 July 2015

first great western work from 2011

Ive just found some old First Great Western advertising executions whilst doing a bit of research, and I quite like them.

The work was produced in 2011 and is a million miles away from their current "Be a Great Westerner" strategy.

The agency's remit 'was to encourage off peak rail travel between London and the West Country for First Great Western' so they 'created a brand new art direction style for the brand, taking visual cues from budget airlines to convey the value message. The executions shown here were used to promote trips to London and Bath.'

I think as full page press ads they'd work really well but would have to be stripped back to do the same job as 48 or 6 sheets - one simple message and less body copy.

Click on the image to enlarge

Click on the image to enlarge

Click on the image to enlarge

The work, along with a radio ad that was done for the campaign can be found on the agency's website.

pay attention to the basic needs of the customer first

I've just read a story explaining 'millennials' in the US are increasingly choosing to watch college football on their TV sets rather than at the stadium itself.

The stadiums, which are often quite dated, have decided that the solution to this problem of dwindling numbers... lies in bringing in technology, and lots of it. They're investing (spending) millions of dollars retrofitting the stadia with every bit of technical wizardry they can lay their hands on, ensuring the "fan experience, and fan engagement is enhanced". Want to share your feelings on Twitter or Facebook whilst you at the game? You got it. 

Problem well and truly solved.

Unfortunately for the stadiums and the unsuspecting fan, the money is being spent in the wrong areas. These quotes were taken from a recent New York Times article that looked what fans looked for on game day.

"...a new survey by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and Oregon’s sports marketing center... asked almost 24,000 students across the country to rank the factors that influenced their decision to attend far the least important was a stadium’s cellular reception or wireless capability. 

"At Michigan, ...among the seven possible improvements to the game-day experience...students ranked cell reception last."

"At Ole Miss... fans said before last season that mobile web, apps and email access were the three least important of 53 elements... the most important things for fans coming to the game are parking, restrooms and concessions.” 

"One of the shocking things that schools have learned is that...students currently care more about clean restrooms than fast Internet. In the recently released Oregon study, which surveyed students across all five power conferences, fans ranked cellular connectivity last on their wish list."

As you can see, technology wasn't exactly high on their wish-list of improvements they wanted. It was clear that any money spent enticing people to football games should be spent on the core, basic things like having clean toilets and lots of parking.

All this reminds me of a meeting we had a number of years ago with the commercial director of a rather well known bus company. We'd presented our ideas for the said route promotion, alongside a clear rationale for our thinking, and things got round to chatting about selling bus travel in general. We mentioned that all his marketing efforts would be wasted if the bus didn't turn up on time, the drivers were rude, or the seats were dirty.

His response? "So you're telling me that if I do that I'll sell more bus tickets...".

That was exactly what we were saying. No one said it would be easy but without the right foundations first, there's little point in laying the bricks. 

I'm not sure he ever took us up on that recommendation...

Monday, 20 July 2015

selling bus travel the Danish way

It's often eye opening to see how public transport is sold in countries around the world, and this TV ad from Denmark no exception.

You don't need to speak the language to work out that these guys are trying to sex up bus travel (or at least the advertising of it)...

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

long copy British Rail ads from back in the day

These ads were written by a guy called Jeff Stark who worked his way up from being an assistant manager at Currys to a pretty big cheese in the advertising industry.

His agency had the British Rail account in the 80s and here's just three of the press ads he's credited with writing. 

Sadly, they don't make em like this anymore.

Click image to view larger

Click image to view larger

Click image to view larger

Monday, 13 July 2015

is this the ultimate in brand disloyalty?

The people in this TV ad are a marketer's holy grail - amazingly loyal to a particular brand (in this case McDonald's) and happy to share that belief with the world.

So loyal in fact, they have tattoos of their favourite Big Mac inked on to various body parts, so I think it's fair to say they qualify as being hardcore brand advocates.

So what happens when arch rival Burger King offers to fly these fiercely loyal customers to Brazil so they can try their own, newly created, 'Big Daddy' burger?

Unsurprisingly (unless you're a McDonald's marketer), they said yes and jetted off a bit sharpish before the King changed his mind.

They then proceeded to all agree the new burger is 'freaking awesome' and 'the meat is delicious' and also 'that's flame grilled right there'. All positive stuff. In fact, they seemed so taken with the enemy's new burger, all of them bar one was happy to alter their McDonald's tattoo to a Big Daddy one.

Fickle bunch eh?

So what does this tell us about the whole brand loyalty/we won't buy anything else thinking that marketers believe in so much? Put simply, the notion that people are loyal to a particular brand exists in the minds of marketers but not in the minds of consumers. They buy a particular product because they think it tastes better/is produced more ethically/is well advertised etc and over time this becomes habit. A habit that is all too easily mistaken for some type of loyalty.

As we can see from the film, if the some of the fiercest brand loyalists around (those prepared to ink themselves with a type of hamburger) are happy to jump ship at the offer of some free food and a flight to Brazil - what hope is there for the rest of us?

Thursday, 9 July 2015

livery design showcase - Bluebird Bus & Coach

At mhd we believe public transport branding, advertising and in particular liveries, are way behind most other industries. They all seem a bit, well, similar don't they?

We want to show that liveries can both look good and be practical, whilst pushing creative boundaries and remaining recognisable. After all, isn't that what branding should aim to achieve?

So as part of a new feature for the newsletter and the blog, every month we'll be taking a defunct public transport operator from around the country and reinventing it for the roads of 2015.

We'll be looking back at their past branding and liveries to create a modern twist on their appearance as a showcase of what can be achieved.

First up is Bluebird Bus & Coach, a bus operator who were based in Greengate, Greater Manchester between July 1988 and March 2013.

Here's what they used to look like...

click to enlarge

And now re-branded for 2015...

click to enlarge
Our approach, in contrast to today's often used swooping lines, was a geometric icon of the bluebird with matching typeface.  A complementary geometric pattern fading from either end, drawing the eye to the logo in the centre of the bus was then developed.

The finishing touch was a strap line and URL to encompass the whole look.

If you like what you see, why not get in touch?

We'll be featuring a new operator every month, next up we'll look at Badgerline in Bristol.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

where can bus companies go from 'catch the bus week'?

From time to time on this blog and our Twitter feed we give the transport industry a fair bit of stick, and more often than not, it's deserved.

Shoddy customer service, dirty vehicles, poor communication, use of industry language & driver attitude have all been pulled up in various forms.

But we also like to give credit where it's due, and highlight pro-active pieces of work that raise the profile of travel by public transport.

Once such activity is 'Catch the Bus Week' - a national campaign from Greener Journeys which 'is a national celebration of the benefits of taking the bus'. There lots of information about the campaign and what individual operators have been up to over on their website.

And the campaign got me thinking about promoting 'the bus' in general. Could something more sustained, more on-going be done to continuously sell the bus as a product around the country?

Is it feasible to get all the UK operators to club together to fund a generic (paraphrasing) 'Get the bus - it's great' advertising campaign? Something along the lines of 'This is the age of the train' idea from back in the day, but all about the bus?

The reality is they all want more people to travel by bus, they all want more people to change their perception of the bus as a product, so it may well (alongside new vehicles, improved scheduling, cleaner buses, better staff training etc) be worth the investment.

I'm sure such a campaign is possible.

A logistical and creative nightmare granted, but possible none the less.