Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 | Global Cool, Our Philosophy
Through these campaigns, we’ve noticed that the way Global Cool promotes trains is quite different from how the rail industry normally does it. Train companies normally talk about two things: how fast the journey is and how cheap the tickets are – that is, how the journey won’t cost you much time, and won’t cost you much money. It’s not very inspiring – just about how the trip won’t disrupt your life. Nobody markets football matches as ‘only very short, so won’t cost you much time out of your busy life’.
And so, having not been encouraged to think that rail travel is fun, most people don’t. In a survey for Global Cool earlier this year, only 10 per cent of respondents said that they were excited about rail travel -that is, 90 per cent aren’t.
But Global Cool thinks that train journeys themselves are something to love – something to celebrate, rather than just endure.
People want to have fun. Two good illustrations of this are these. First, on Facebook, the main group of the massive French rail company SNCF has a paltry 4000 members, whereas the group wanting SNCF to use Homer Simpson’s voice for its announcements has 65 times that – 250,000 members. And second, we notice that the “auto”biography of the GoCompare meerkat – a probably quite-funny nonsense – is outselling this year’s other big autobiography from Tony Blair.
Train travel can provide that fun. Global Cool’s campaigns have focused on this, for example:
· Time to read: so we handed out a load of free books at railway stations and started a bookclub on Twitter (with the hashtag #BooksInPublic) where people talk about what they’re reading on trains
· Opportunity to meet new people: we taught people how to talk to strangers on trains and buses (which Brits generally don’t know!)
· Time to listen to music: so we got the public (and celebrities) to nominate songs from their favourite travel playlists
· The inspiration which comes from the journeys: many bands told us of songs or books or lyrics which have been inspired by journeys on trains and buses
From Murder on the Orient Express to The Railway Children to JK Rowling’s platform 9 1/2, trains are ripe with mystery and romanticism – strong and positive associations which we can use to get people onto trains. People DO have these positive stories: our website is awash with comments about people’s adventures and fun on train and bus trips – if we just ask people to focus on them.
The positive approach is effective: after just three months of Global Cool’s campaign this year, there was a 50% increase in people being excited about rail travel.
Rail marketing could focus a lot more on how the journey itself – the core product – can contribute to people’s lives, through giving fun and adventure, and less on how the journey is just an inconvenience to be minimised.
- Caroline Fiennes and Will Daunt
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