Yesterday, our campaign for Halifax Region’s Metro Transit went live. Themed “Do It On The Bus,” it speaks to the many leisure and work activities you can do as a transit rider that you can’t (or shouldn’t) as a driver.
That last one was a reference to The Graduate, by journalist Jacob Boom.
And yes, of course there was criticism:
The comparison to the Bridget campaign was inevitable, and we knew it. That was a local safe driving campaign for Halifax bridges that personified the bridge as a sexy woman spouting double-entendres. I personally disliked that campaign, because it was sexist.
When our Senior Copywriter, Christopher, first suggested the line “Do It On The Bus” during creative development late last year we knew we had a potentially viral campaign. But we also knew we would have to play our part perfectly straight to avoid being silly or sleazy. Our campaign has a serious message about the upsides of transit culture. If anyone chose to inject sex into it, that would be on them. “We’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road,” as it were. I like to call it “strategic disingenuousness”.
The result, in just one day, has been phenomenal. #doitonthebus is trending in Halifax. There is a @doitonthebus parody account on Twitter. Someone even parodied our campaign infographics.
And then there’s the earned media:
Once the slogan grabs attention, [Metro Transit] hopes people will learn about the benefits of taking public transit on the doitonthebus.ca website.
The site features infographics promoting Metro Transit’s 22 new buses, more comfortable seating on MetroX vehicles, new routes and new Dartmouth terminal.
Other graphics show the smaller carbon footprint of buses vs. cars and ideas for what to do on the bus, such as sleeping, making new friends, or “rocking out” with headphones.
Metro Transit wants you to “do it on the bus.”
Well, maybe not that.
But Halifax’s bus service wants you to think of all the other things you can do on the bus, like reading, finishing homework or napping – all those things you shouldn’t do while driving in hopes that more people will climb aboard.
The new “Do it on the Bus” campaign attempts to promote things you can’t do while driving a car, including read a newspaper, work on a laptop or sleep.
As well, the “Do it on the Bus” website touts Halifax’s transit options — both the bus and ferry services — as the greener options, for the carbon-conscious commuters, and promotes recent improvements routes and facilities.
People were pretty quick picking up the double entendre in Metro Transit’s new campaign, making it ripe for ridicule.
Tiffany Chase, speaking for Metro Transit, said the new campaign full of double entendres is an effort to recover from a decline in ridership after last year’s transit strike.
“We’re being a little bit cheeky with the campaign. We haven’t had a campaign like this before but certainly given the level of online interest that we’ve seen this morning since the campaign launched, I think that we’ve been successful,” she said.
Chase said the ad campaign will pay for itself if it can boost ridership by just one per cent.
But getting noticed is not enough. What we really wanted to accomplish was to get Halifax buzzing about taking public transit. Even the criticisms of their service give our client an opportunity to engage their target audiences in a positive way. Because at the end of the day, this is a campaign about promoting a healthy transit lifestyle. If people want to talk dirty about the campaign, they’ll have their giggles. But when the naughty jokes die down, people will still be thinking about all of the (hopefully more appropriate) things they could be doing on the bus.