Review: Hop On Board Campaign

I’ve had a chance to catch most of the Hop On Board campaign that es/drake recently did for Valley Regional Transit and ACHD. Overall, I think they’ve done a good job with this campaign.

The message of this campaign is appealing on several levels. It offers a solution for those who are environmentally-conscious, and concerned about the effects of automobile pollution. It offers an alternative to those concerned about the growing traffic problems and congestion on city streets in and around the Treasure Valley. It also presents itself as a stress-reliever of sorts, in that riders need not worry about the stress of driving, traffic, etc.

Admittedly, I did not catch the “massive downtown event” (as per the es/drake news article), so I have no comments about the effectiveness of that event. Here are, however, a few of the highlights of the campaign (based on what I’ve seen so far):

Television Spot — Probably the single most effective visual example of what Valley Regional Transit and ACHD are trying to accomplish. A number of individuals were seated, at roughly the distance from each other that they would be if they were each in separate vehicles. The next shot is those same people, spaced at roughly the distance they’d be from one another if they were all on a single bus. The visual is striking, and it delivers the message(s) quite well.

Radio — I recently heard a traffic report on the radio, sponsored by Valley Ride (Valley Regional Transit). This sponsorship ran during the 5 o’clock hour, and was well placed spot to reach the very commuters who could benefit from the service.

I do think, however, that there are some areas that could be improved, or in some cases where es/drake has missed the boat:

Transit — I see a fair number of buses and commuter vans on a daily basis. Since this campaign broke, however, I have yet to see the Hop On Board message on any of these buses. Its not for a lack of available space, either. Several of those same buses have been running with empty panels recently.

Look and Feel — Looking at it from strictly a design standpoint, I like the “urban, contemporary, and bold graphic design” of the campaign. Putting it into the context of the audience, however, I don’t know that it will appeal to / get noticed much by the 35-40 year old professional who commutes from Meridian to downtown Boise every day. I see it being very effective with a younger crowd, college-aged, perhaps, but the message seems to be directed toward the “working professional” who is also a homeowner, has mortgage and car payments, and could see the financial benefit of commuting.

Website — I do like the fact that the website has the same look and feel as the rest of the campaign, and give es/drake credit for that. The think that stuck me immediately, however — the tagline of the entire campaign is “Hop On Board” however the URL of the site — Why not take the extra step to make sure that your website’s URL is easily associated with the rest of the campaign? A quick check revealed that (as of a few days ago), and were all available to register. Huge disconnect, in my opinion.
I do like the Savings Calculator feature on the site, but I don’t find it useful personally, as my daily one-way commute is less than 15 miles. I’d be interested in seeing what I could save by using public transportation, but I don’t have that option.
Finally, why not put the television spots up on the website as well? You’ve already done the work on them, it serves as one more way to engage the customer/visitor, and provide just that much more incentive to use the available services.

There are other suggestions that I could make that would, in my opinion, improve this campaign, but I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach. I don’t think that this has completely played itself out yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks down at drake have more pieces to this campaign that just haven’t been seen yet. If they do, great — it’ll build on some strong initial work. If they don’t, this is still a good campaign that will generate some good response and better involvement in public transportation.

Overall, I commend the staff over at es/drake for a good campaign for their client. I think that they missed out on a few opportunities to make it a great campaign, though.

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