‘Down Time’ Is Up For DART Commuters

Knape here is preparing a mid-June launch of the first Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) advertising campaign that will concentrate solely on increasing ridership on the mass transit system.
“The last five years, they’ve been so busy introducing new products that it has taken all the time and the budget” in marketing efforts, said agency president Susan Knape.
Knape said new print, outdoor, transit and radio ads for the $1.5-2 million account foster a more personable approach to the client, focusing on the stress-reducing benefits of DART commuting or carpooling in high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Pictures of light rail riders hugging kids, reading newspapers and laughing with friends all support a tagline message, “Some things are more important than driving.”
Six print ads break in newspapers later this month, along with placement on bus and train interiors. Radio commercials will debut in July on up to 10 Dallas-area stations.
The creative elements of the campaign are the result of nearly a dozen focus group sessions that sought ideas and thoughts on DART. Knape said one of the key goals of the campaign is to “de-institutionalize” DART by incorporating real people in the ads.
“When we first started this, the client was really pushing us to do [only] a benefits message. We didn’t think that was a good idea,” Knape said, noting DART is still perceived as a hassle, timewise. Hence, the focus was on touting the benefits of the “down time” commuters have to read or converse while heading to work, plus the cost-savings involved.
Radio spots attempt to create a fun atmosphere, with a quick-witted host conversing with car drivers as well as train and bus riders about DART. “Excuse me sir,” he yells to a frustrated occupant of a car on a jammed highway. “This is a freeway. You can’t park here.”
Teaming with Knape were ethnic agency partners Cinco Media for Hispanic radio and Baker Consulting Associates for ads aimed at African-American audiences.