Naughty and nice in transport advertising

When you look around Melbourne you will see our trains, trams and buses are all plastered in internal and external advertising for all kinds of products and services. Usually the campaigns are the same ones you see on TV, in newspapers and on billboards, but sometimes you find a smart advertising company that is able to tweak their message to suit the medium it appears on. Of course, this sometimes backfires…

First off, we have a bus billboard panel promoting NAB’s “honest” credit cards: the message on the side says “An honest credit card wouldn’t buy a concession ticket with a student card from 2002“. Fare evasion has been a big issue in Melbourne for years, and this advertisement piggybacks off the issue in a positive way.

National Bus #668 on William Street, with NAB credit card advert: 'An honest credit card wouldn't buy a concession ticket with a student card from 2002'

My second example of an advertising message being tailored for the medium is this campaign by Garnier Men’s skin care products, which appears inside trams. Like NAB the advertising agency behind it has taken a playful approach, telling consumers to don’t sweat the small stuff when they encounter one of the small pitfalls encountered in their day to day lives. Unlike NAB, this particular ad condones fare evasion, using the message “5 cents short on your fare: don’t sweat the small stuff“. Somewhat coincidentally there is a Metlink sticker on the window below, with the anti-fare evasion message “No change is no excuse“.

Best juxtaposition EVER aboard a Z3 class tram.

I’ve since been told second hand that the photo above did the rounds of the Metlink offices, resulting in a three way bunfight between Yarra Trams, Metlink and Garnier as to the appropriateness of this onboard advertising campaign. I wonder if Metlink will send NAB and their advertising agency a muffin basket for their more positive message?

Further reading

This isn’t the first example of badly placed adverts on public transport: at Flinders Street Station there have been car advertisements telling train passengers “Always get a seat”, and in The Age advertisements for new train timetables have appeared on the same page of an article detailing who loses out in the said changes.

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4 Responses to “Naughty and nice in transport advertising”

  1. […] Naughty and nice in transport advertising

  2. Frederick says:

    In Perth, SGIO ran a campaign earlier this year advertising its insurance, saying ‘You’re never without a car’, with a picture of a tired mum holding several children and shopping bags in her arms. However, I think only APN had control over ads, and Transperth had no say in this.

    • Marcus says:

      A similar thing happens in Melbourne, the transport operators contract out the management of advertising to a third party. For instance many of our tram shelters are actually owned and maintained by outdoor advertising companies, who end up making a profit because of the ad revenues generated.

  3. […] Naughty and nice in transport advertising – the last time I looked at advertisers coming up with clever ads on public transport. […]

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