Monday, 21 November 2016

who remembers a pint of Best? Courage do.

The mannequin challenge (performed well before the internet), a cracking mnemonic (sadly forgotten by today's marketers),  classic Chase & Dave reworkings (Gertcha!) all perfectly complimenting John Webster's wise words.

Sit back, relax and enjoy three classic Courage Best adverts from the 80s.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

the experience is the future, not the four wheels

In last week's Passenger Transport there was a piece by Robert Jack on the Slide operation currently being trialled by RATP Dev in Bristol.

Robert writes 'It’s not a bus and it’s not a taxi, it’s something in between'...  'it's the first to use an Uber-style blend of an app-based booking interface and sophisicated algorithms to match customers with vehicles.'

In a nutshell, it uses the latest technology (that has nearly revolutionised the taxi industry in big cities) to make people's whole experience of getting to where they need to go a lot simpler and more organic. What hasn't really changed is the mode of transport. Slide just use nice, branded people carriers.

Alongside the article is a comment piece bemoaning the bus industry's lack of investment in technology - 'Is it really too difficult or too expensive for the big bus groups to develop systems that compete with the best retail experiences? By failing to do so, buses are starting to look like the land that time forgot.'

At the moment it looks like the answer is yes.

Maybe the big boys are happy to concentrate on short-term term goals for the benefit of shareholders rather than long-term investment for the benefit of passengers? Maybe they are afraid to rock the boat in case it affects the transport status quo they are very much a mainstay of? Or, with an air of positivity, they know they have a problem keeping up with technology and are secretly beavering away to address it?

One point of view is they invest too much in the product itself and too little in the overall customer experience. New buses with the odd gadget are great but they are just one part of a customer's interaction with a particular bus brand. The whole journey - finding information, understanding fares, paying for a ticket, contacting the company - needs to be on a par with 21st century retail, not just the bit on wheels.

I've just read that Slide have now doubled their operation in Bristol to eight vehicles (after the original four had completed nearly 16,000 journey miles) and are likely to open more routes in the city.

I'm not sure the bus industry needs to worry just yet, but it certainly needs to be aware their technology game needs significant improvement.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

the skill in selling something that is dull and dated

There are some operators around the country who have more money to invest than others - that's just a fact of life in 21st century public transport.

And just as some football clubs have big budgets to spend on new players, there are bus operators that have big bucks at their disposal to spend on the latest vehicles. Vehicles that come with gadgets Q in the James Bond films would be proud of. And when something is new in the bus industry, it gets advertising money spent on it.

By and large, it is easier to sell something that is new and shiny in comparison to selling something that is dull and dated. New and shiny often comes a good story to tell and excitement - dated certainly doesn't. So having to work smarter, usually with less money, is a great skill for your agency to have.

The skill to create advertising that entertains, educates and informs on a product that isn't in the slightest bit sexy. To create advertising that gives the reader a credible reason to change their short-term transport behaviour, and eventually, their long-term attitude.

Based on those criteria, poor advertising is prevalent in the bus industry. Don't get me wrong, you can find some good work being done but the overall standard of persuasion is poor. A stock image of people with shopping bags, a picture of a bus and headline is expected to do the job - a creative combination that doesn't constitute an idea to make people sit and take notice of the product. Putting out dull and boring advertising only reinforces people's perception that the bus isn't for them.

So let's give agencies a bit of freedom to show what they can do and get the ideas flowing.

Let's make it fun, make it engaging and make it informative. Let's get selling with some proper gusto!