Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak marketing’

Something to Promote at the Time

January 18, 2020

Amtrak was particularly keen to promote its new equipment in the 1970s as it continued to emphasize the slogan “we’re making the trains worth traveling again.”

That included the use of new SDP40F locomotives that began arriving in 1973 and continued to be delivered through 1974.

An example of that was the cover of the regional timetables that Amtrak issued in the middle 1970s that depicted one of the new locomotives along with a relic of the streamliner era, a dome-lounge-observation car.

Also note that the timetable cover shows a drawing of the new Amtrak station in Jacksonville, Florida.

It may look dated today and remind some of steps that Amtrak took that didn’t quite work out as planned — the use of SDP40F locomotives – or which have not quite stood the test of time — the modular stations designed in the 1970s.

But it was what Amtrak had to promote at the time it did so with pride.

Amtrak Turns 48 Today

May 1, 2019

You might not have heard much about it, but today (May 1, 2019) is Amtrak’s 48th birthday.

The national passenger carrier commenced operations on May 1, 1971, with a skeletal network and skeletal staff.

At the time, virtually all functions associated with operating the trains were performed under contract by Amtrak’s host railroads.

Amtrak President Roger Lewis has a relatively small staff in Washington, but that was about it.

One locomotive and one passenger cars were given an Amtrak identify, but the trains otherwise looked the same as they had the day before when the freight railroads ran them.

The slogan “tracks are back” shown on a button didn’t debut until later along with another more widely-used slogan, “We’re making the trains worth traveling again.”

I can see why “tracks are back” didn’t seem to gain much traction. Tracks never went away so it’s not clear what was “back.”

 

Amtrak Names Griffen to Marketing Post

October 16, 2017

Amtrak has reached into the airline industry for another executive hire.

Griffen

It has named J. Timothy “Tim” Griffin as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, responsible for marketing, passenger experience, Northeast Corridor business development, state supported services business development, long distance services business development, and product support and management.

Griffin held marketing positions at Continental and Northwest Airlines, rising to the post of executive vice president of marketing at Northwest Airlines in 1999.

He has also directed client services at Brierley and Partners, providing loyalty marketing for Hilton, Neiman Marcus, and United Airlines.

Griffin started in the airline industry in 1977 with American Airlines, where he led post-deregulation route and pricing strategies.

He most recently managed a private investment company, consulting in the travel, transportation, and distribution industries.

“Tim brings a deep level of transportation marketing expertise to Amtrak,” said Amtrak co-CEO Richard Anderson in a statement. “Throughout his career, he has repeatedly shown that he knows how to build strong corporate brands that accelerate a company’s growth. At Amtrak, we are looking for Tim to help us identify and win new customers, while continuing to maintain our loyal base of current customers. We are delighted to have him join the company.”

This Was Once a Big Deal

October 13, 2017

The image above is a newspaper advertisement from 1971. Amtrak was a mere seven months old and just finding its footing.

Now it had something it felt was worth talking about. It was the era when the company’s slogan was “we’re making the trains worth traveling again.”

That, of course, suggests that until Amtrak came along train travel wasn’t something you  wanted to do. That was true in some places, particularly on Penn Central, but not everywhere. Nonetheless, Amtrak recognized the public perception of train travel at the time and that it had to overcome that.

Although not obvious, the timetable that the customer service representative is holding was a major milestone in Amtrak history.

The first two timetables that Amtrak issued were cut and paste jobs with a Spartan design. The Amtrak logo was featured on the covers and nothing else.

But the November 14, 1971, timetable was the first that Amtrak actually designed.

Among other things, the timetable featured airline style city listings. Airlines in the early 1970s were held in high esteem.

If you read the text of this advertisement carefully, you’ll note the effort of Amtrak to market itself like an airline.

Note how the schedule change for the Chicago-New Orleans train is pitched in airline marketing language, e.g., leave after the end of the business day, arrive in the morning in time for appointments.

The claim that some trains were receiving “new” equipment is borderline deceptive. There was nothing “new” about any equipment that Amtrak was using in November 1971.

It might have been refurbished and the type of equipment might have been “new” to that route or train, but the equipment itself was far from new.

But this was where Amtrak was in 1971. It was trying to get attention, trying to build patronage and trying to reframe how the public thought about rail travel.

Sometimes it is helpful to see where you’ve been to understand where you are at today. When was the last time that Amtrak touted giving Chicago better train service? Yup, it’s been a while.

Amtrak Launches New Marketing Campaign

September 15, 2017

Amtrak has launched a new marketing campaign focused on the experience of riding a train.

The campaign’s theme is “Break the Travel Quo”

In a news release, Amtrak said its approach is to take “a lighthearted approach to push against the realities of air and car travel that have become par for the course, juxtaposing commonplace scenarios against the comfort and convenience of Amtrak.

“Not only does Amtrak boast one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry – allowing passengers to bring up to four pieces of luggage for free – but the rail company also offers free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times, the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, and no middle seat.”

The marketing campaign is being produced by Amtrak’s ad agency, FCB New York, and began on Thursday.

The campaign is oriented toward local and long distance travel and generally aimed at adults 35 years and older.

However, the campaign also has demographic oriented messages targeting Hispanic, African American, LGBTQ, and Chinese audiences.

The advertising will occur on multiple media platforms and vary regionally, with different messages for certain regions.

Some of the advertisements will be placed in social media and on websites rather than on network or local TV.

Above all Amtrak is seeking to get travelers to think of rail travel as an alternative.

Amtrak has established a website in support of the campaign: www.breakthetravelquo.com.

Amtrak Marketing in 1971 and Today

December 16, 2016

006

Amtrak’s marketing was pretty simple during its first year of operation. Shown above on the left is a page from the Nov. 14, 1971, timetable.

The full-page advertisement features an Amtrak passenger representative holding an oversize model of a passenger car standing in the middle of a railroad track with the slogan of the time, “We’re Making the Trains Worth Traveling Again.”

Despite the fact that some railroads — the Santa Fe being a notable example — still provided very good service, the public perception in the early 1970s was colored by reports about travel on trains offered by Penn Central and other railroads that were described as dirty and unpleasant. If you read the text of the advertisement above, you will find in talking point No. 2 that Amtrak was pledging to operate cleaner trains.

In the early 1970s, travel by train was in decline and Amtrak claimed to be seeking to reverse that.

Contrast that approach to that taken in the advertisement published in the last system timetable that Amtrak printed early in 2016.

In the second decade of the 21st century Amtrak perceives its primary competitor to be the private automobile. It now sees itself as having long since “arrived” and n ow living an urbane existence. Its advertisements are slicker looking and more stylized.

It was an increasing reliance on private automobile travel that led to the decline of intercity train travel that Amtrak was assuring the public that it was seeking to address back in 1971.

More than four decades later, Amtrak is still battling the convenience of the private automobile. The ways that Amtrak fights that battle has changed, but not the battle itself. (click on the image to enlarge it).

Amtrak Kicks Off New Branding Campaign

September 14, 2015

Amtrak has launched a new nationwide brand campaign titled “500 Destinations: Infinite Stories.”

The passenger carrier said the campaign was inspired by passengers’ travel experiences and is seeking to create top-of-mind awareness while showcasing the comfort, freedom, service and value of train travel.

“The storytelling at the heart of the campaign focuses on the unique experiences and adventures only rail travel can provide,” Amtrak said in a news release. “Whether it’s a trip to college, a business trip with colleagues, a girls’ weekend, or a dream vacation across the country, Amtrak takes you there.”

Amtrak said it is playing up rail travel as a smarter way to travel because it offers passengers the opportunity to relax and stretch out, move about freely and work or play.

“Amtrak’s new campaign speaks to the uniquely enjoyable experience of rail travel,” said Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak acting vice president brand management and marketing. “We are reinvigorating the Amtrak brand by celebrating thousands of travel experiences while simultaneously reinforcing what longtime Amtrak loyalists love about America’s Railroad: comfort, convenience and a commitment to excellent customer service.”

The campaign will provide messages across a variety of media platforms, including TV, print, digital and social media.

Amtrak created the campaign in coordination with its advertising agency, FCB Garfinkel of New York.

Amtrak Launching Advertising Campaigns

March 11, 2014

Amtrak is launching two new advertising campaigns promoting the National system and Northeast Regional Service.

The campaigns will highlight the choice and benefits consumers have for travel. “The new campaigns offer us the opportunity to feature the benefits and amenities of long-distance trains and the convenience of our Northeast Regional Service,” said Amtrak Chief of Marketing and Advertising Programs John Lee.

The railroad said the national campaign will “showcase the amenities offered by long-distance trains that contribute to a unique and comfortable alternative to automobile road trips.”

The ads will feature headlines such as “A better journey starts with a better ride,” “The art of travel redefined,” “Show the road who is boss,” and “Take a whole new view of travel.”

The new campaign promotes the advantages of rail travel vis-à-vis an automobile, such as private sleeper service, large windows, and wide seats with extra headroom and legroom.

The sign-off for these ads, “Making 500 destinations a far better ride,” speaks to the breadth and connectivity of the Amtrak network, the railroad said. The National campaign will include radio, print, digital, mobile and out of home media elements.

Advertising firm Draftfcb New York worked in conjunction with Amtrak to develop the campaigns.