Amtrak On Board With Ethnic Effort

Amtrak on Tuesday, March 10, broke a new Acela Express print and online ad campaign targeting African American and Hispanic consumers.

Meanwhile, the national railroad service on Wednesday, March 11, followed with the launch of a TV branding spot for passenger rail service.

The ethnic effort, “My Track to Success” — via Images USA — features African American and Hispanic business and community leaders, and entrepreneurs, providing testimonials about the experience and benefits of traveling the Northeast corridor via Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train.

Participants providing testimonials in the campaign include Charles Smith, former NBA player and executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association; Pamela Galloway-Tabb, vp, Newseum; Sharon Pratt, former Washington mayor and evp, Business Intelligence Systems; Julius Robinson, vp, Marriott International; celebrity photographer Johnny Nunez; sports broadcaster James Brown; Emilio Pardo, chief brand officer, AARP.

“As a sportscaster, businessman, and family man, riding Acela gives me time to recharge,” says HBO’s Brown in his testimonial, adding, “I can read, review game notes and football stats, return calls, and even watch the back of my eyelids after a game. With my hectic schedule, I often make a mad dash to Acela to get home for a date night with my wife.”

“For me, Acela is a change of pace,” says Tina Ramirez, founder/artistic director of Ballet Hispanico, in her testimonial. “It’s a quiet comfortable atmosphere. I can relax, kick my feet up, and catch up on my reading. That’s how I stay one step ahead.”

Running through fall 2009, placement includes publications such as Black Enterprise, The Network Journal, Hispanic Business and Latin Business. Online initiatives at African American and Hispanic Web sites and targeted e-mail blasts also support.

“With this campaign, we sought to highlight the unique benefits of riding Amtrak that appeal to business travelers,” said Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak’s director of national advertising, in a statement. “We wanted to deliver a personal message, directly from loyal Acela passengers on why Acela is their preferred mode of transportation when traveling in the Northeast Corridor.”

The TV branding spot, “The Nicer Way to Travel” — via Arnold DC, Washington — is slated to run through early April in select major markets, including New York, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Orlando, Fla., and Portland, Ore. Placement includes local and network programming throughout all dayparts.

Creative first features children playing with toy planes and cars, parodying adult frustrations with these transportation modes’ traffic, gas prices, security checkpoints, flight delays and hidden fees. The ending, however, shows a boy playing with a model train set with sun streaming through a window and upbeat music in the background. “The train has arrived indeed,” says the voiceover. “Amtrak. Enjoy the journey.”

Amtrak spent $15.3 million on U.S. media in 2008 (not including online), up from $14.8 million in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.