five frustrating things about the marketing of public transport

There are certain things that can get on your wick when it comes to selling the benefits of public transport - and they happen up and down the country, with operators big and small.

In no particular order, here are five (more available on request) of our pet hates  -

1. Poor lifestyle imagery. The type of that is seen all too often in bus communication and adds absolutely nothing to your message. Selling to commuters? Grab a pic of a man in his suit with mobile phone and briefcase to hand. Trying to get more people to go shopping? What better than showing a group of smiling 20 something women with their colourful, non-branded carrier bags.

Use your imagination, be creative.

2. Industry language. Vestibule, alight and timing point may well be technical/industry terms used over the decades but we should be using words and phrases that don't require insider knowledge to decipher.

Remember, the public doesn't use the language of the industry, the industry should use the language of the public.

3. Pics of trains and buses. I just don't get the fascination with putting a stylised image of your product on everything. Do you stylise it because you don't like what it looks like without two hours of Photoshop work? Do you show a bus/train just in case people don't know you're talking about?

Either way, you should be concentrating on selling the benefits of what they're using not the product itself.

4. Pointless innovation. Our local operator has just introduced 'social seating' to their new fleet. The reality will be people avoiding it like the plague as they want their own space or a maximum of three blokes sat there kicking each other in the shins due to the awkward layout.

The likes of skylights are welcome but the customer doesn't need innovation for the sake of it.

5. Fear of space. If you want simple, clear, compelling advertising then public transport isn't for you. I've lost count the number of times we've been asked to add more to an ad/leaflet because 'there's a space' and the client wants to fill it.

Great advertising takes things away until you're left with the bare minimum to get the key message across, which is maybe why you don't see much of it selling buses or trains.

As and when anything else gets on my nerves, I'll be sure to let you know.