Monday, 27 June 2016

how Thalys sell their high speed train services

Thalys is an international high-speed train operator that runs services between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.

And by the look of things they like to promote them a little differently.

They recently wanted a fresh way to present their train destinations - something a little away from the norm - something a little creative. So they came up with the idea of capturing the sound identities of Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and integrated them into three outdoor installations, with each city represented by over 1000 sounds. Each sound was heard through its own unique headphone jack. 

The sounds included overheard conversations, street musicians, language lessons, market sellers, church bells, and archive sounds resulting from a partnership with the French National Audio-visual Archives.

This little video shows it's pretty impressive stuff in both idea and execution.


Friday, 24 June 2016

Virgin billboards that strip back the clutter

It's rare you see a decent billboard (those old fashioned ad spaces that digital folk think no media planner should propose) these days.

And by decent, I mean a piece of communication that is simple and straight to the point, whilst being recognisable as a coming from a particular brand.

Like these two from Virgin Trains East Coast.




There's the same font they always use, with the same colour and language you always associate with the brand. Three things that are the essence of consistent brand communication, yet so many companies fall at the basic hurdle of making their work recognisable.

Virgin have also gone against conventional marketing wisdom with no website 'to find out more' copy, yet alone a hashtag (to do what normal people to with hashtags from brands - ignore them).

Do they know something other brands don't? #marketingmavericks


Monday, 20 June 2016

the Journey Boys are back on National Express Coaches

First on our screens back in March of this year, the Journey Boys are back with their latest 'adventure' on National Express.

This particular ad is only available via the company's YouTube channel (current subscribers 624) and to be honest, the whole campaign is a little bit random.

The initial adventure followed a group of lads trying to get to Bristol, and showed how their lives benefited from the services of National Express. The ad introduced a series of likeable characters and there was a definite idea of what the company was trying to achieve.

I was expecting another tale soon after but unfortunately, it was a whole three months until something new surfaced (surely most people would have forgotten about the first ad by then) and lasted just over 40 seconds.

Why the delay? Did they decide Bristol was so good they didn't want to come home? Hardly makes for a smooth transition between adventures.

On a different note, the ad is running alongside the brand's TV campaign, a campaign that uses the hashtag #takeadifferentview. Confusingly The Journey Boys uses the hashtag #HolidayEssentials, whilst there is also a Stanstead Airport promo with the hashtag #catchthepigeon.

A case of too much emphasis on hashtags and not enough on clear strategy?

Anyway, see for yourselves in the tale of the Inflatable Croc (surprisingly not a hashtag).

Friday, 17 June 2016

arguments that are hard to ignore

Mark Ritson is award-winning columnist, consultant and marketing professor who is never afraid to shy away from an opinion.

He writes in Marketing Week magazine, and does plenty of talks around the world where (amongst other things) he does his best to shoot down the so-called importance of blindly held beliefs that are prevalent in this industry.

Even if you don't agree with him, his arguments are hard to ignore. 

The talk below took place at Marketing Week Live, where Mark gave his views on eight marketing concepts: millennials, CSR, brand purpose, brand valuation, digital marketing, zero-based budgets, targeting and TV advertising.

Grab yourself a coffee and enjoy 50 minutes of common sense.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

give drivers the chance to use their customer service initiative

Just like retail brands with their customer-facing staff, bus companies are heavily reliant on drivers to deliver their brand promise.

They are expected to 'hello' a thousand times a day, the last one with as much enthusiasm and warmth as the first one. Each shift they are responsible for their employer's hefty vehicle investment and the reputation of their employers brand, not forgetting the safety of their passengers. They take the flak when things go wrong and rarely get any of the glory when services run like clockwork.

They are the main link between decisions made in the boardroom on pricing policy, routes etc and the customers they directly affect - and that interaction between drivers and passengers is pretty much where any relationship with a company's brand, for most people, starts and finishes.

But how much freedom should they be allowed when dealing with customers? Should they be expected to tow the company line at all times or is a little bit of initiative the way forward?

For me, companies should give their drivers the opportunity to be a little flexible. Whether this means offering a regular day ticket passenger a discounted upgrade to a weekly ticket, or even offering a regular user a free ride for the day when the service hasn't been up to scratch. It's the little touches that show you appreciate every one of the people who travel on your buses each day.

So go on, give them a chance to really grow your reputation for customer service. After all, who knows the customer better than the drivers who work a route day in, day out?

Monday, 6 June 2016

the new TV ad for Virgin Trains East Coast

Saw the new Virgin Trains East Coast ad the other night and it's, well, typically Virgin I suppose.

Decent idea (the ad is based on a runner doing a 20k race dressed a fish), decent production and a couple of nice touches  - "you're a lean marine fighting machine" and the irony of a fish eating a supporter's chips.



I can't help thinking if people remember the ad they will do so as 'the ad with the fish running' rather than 'the ad for Virgin Trains with the fish running'.

Better than not being remembered at all I guess.