Metro’s Opposites campaign, which debuted in August 2008, sought to promote Metro ridership and raise awareness of its services both directly with consumers and through business-to-business channels. Its initial goal was to increase ridership and raise awareness of Metro and its many services, which seek to improve mobility and quality of life in the region. But the overall program was also born of a strategic and timely idea. With a possible sales tax ballot measure making its way through the required legislative process, it was important for Metro to position itself as the solution to congestion in Los Angeles County. In fact, initial creative discussions regarding new ridership promotion programs focused on just two words: problem and solution.
From this simple word pairing, the Opposites program took shape. The premise was simple. Congestion, high gas prices, and pollution are all major problems in LA, and Metro is the solution. In contrast to Metro’s previous ridership campaign, Go Metro, which employed humorous and colorful photography, Opposites was designed to be the ultimate “quick read.” Simple icons were developed, and the all-black backgrounds helped to pop the icon-and-word pairs to maximum effect, regardless of media.
The campaign was applied to outdoor and print advertising, supergraphic banners, and posters on all Metro buses and trains. Materials using the opposites pairings were also distributed to Metro Pass customers and Metro’s rideshare business clients. These materials included wearables, specialty items, and a calendar featuring commissioned work by local illustrators.
One of the tactics Metro employed with this campaign was to “seed the clouds.” Opposites wearables and other items were sent to influential designers, writers, planners, and thought leaders. The creative team capitalized on an LA Weekly story that named the best baristas in Los Angeles, sending the crew t-shirts. Many a morning cappuccino drinker got the Opposites message as they ordered their morning caffeine.
The total budget for this project was $250,000. The results proved very positive. Demand for the giveaway items was high, with most items “sold out” soon after being produced. In addition, anecdotal response to the campaign was extremely positive. Though Metro often received customer feedback via its website and comments or questions sent directly to Metro employees, the Opposites campaign achieved a recognition level well beyond previous efforts.
The campaign was the spark for a short film, created by the organization EMBARQ, which profiled Metro’s approach to marketing public transportation. The video can be seen at http://thecityfix.com/transit-agencies-need-to-invest-in-marketing-a-lesson-from-los-angeles/.)
Metro Creative Services
International Color Posters (bus and shelter ads), Clear Channel Outdoor (billboards), Beyond Zebra (t-shirts), Promotional Dreams (lollipops, balloons), GMPC (tote bags)