This Nostalgic Ad Looks Ahead to Humans Flying Around Earth in Capsules at 700 MPH

The Rust Belt is dead. Long live the Hyperloop

Headshot of Tim Nudd

How do you advertise space-age transportation technology that doesn’t exist yet? By taking a long, nostalgic look at what came before it.

That’s the approach taken by Micky Coyne and Pete Harvey—two independent creatives who’ve been working directly with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and its CMO, Robert Miller—in an evocative, beautifully shot 1:20 spot rolling out this week.

The commercial, titled “Here Lies,” is styled as a eulogy for the Rust Belt, the section of the U.S. in the Midwest and Great Lakes region that was once a powerhouse of industry but has since suffered economic decline and urban decay in the face of changing technologies.

But “Here Lies” heralds a new transit technology—space-age capsules that fly humans in pneumatic-style tubes at 700 miles an hour. It’s a technology that Elon Musk and Richard Branson have touted. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced a partnership this week with Cleveland and Chicago to survey development of a Hyperloop track between those two cities.

It would take 28 minutes to travel from Cleveland to Chicago via Hyperloop. And thus, that old Rust Belt manufacturing route would rise again as a pioneer in next-level transportation.

See the spot here:

“Cities like Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and my hometown of Pittsburgh are where transportation was born,” Miller said in a statement. “Transportation of all kinds—rail, road and air. So it was time to bid adieu to the tired, pejorative term ‘Rust Belt’ and make way for a new era of transportation with the development of Hyperloop between Cleveland and Chicago.”

Instead of choosing an agency, Miller approached freelancers Coyne and Harvey directly. Coyne is a veteran of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Droga5 and 72andSunny, while Harvey was most recently executive creative director of barrettSF. The worked with Miller on the strategy and scriptwriting, and they even directed the spot themselves this winter.

“Nothing about Hyperloop TT is traditional, so I was thrilled when Rob [Miller] tapped us to work with him directly to develop the brand film,” said Coyne. “The CMO-direct-to-creatives model, at least in this case, worked really well. We both trusted each other and learned how to adapt quickly.”

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.