MTA Unveils Fully Wrapped Shuttle Train

The topic of subway advertising has come up on this blog many times. As I have noted on numerous occasions, the MTA has continued to look at ways to bring in much needed revenue through advertising. They feel the opportunity is there to maximize revenue by thinking outside the box & coming up with more unconventional means of advertising to bring in revenue. One of those unconventional ideas was to have a 42nd Street Shuttle Train wrapped in advertising inside & out. This idea has come to reality as the MTA unveiled the first fully wrapped shuttle train 6 days ago. Here is a press release talking about it:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot G. Sander today announced a series of innovative advertising strategies to increase revenue generated by ads in the MTA’s transit system. Sander was joined by History’s™ Senior Vice President, Marketing, Chris Moseley, in unveiling the centerpiece of the initiative, the first fully-wrapped MTA NYC Transit subway car. Three cars will be fully-wrapped, inside and out, with a promotion for History’s™ television series “Cities of the Underworld” for the month of October.

“We have had tremendous success growing our advertising revenue over the past decade as advertisers have taken advantage of booming ridership to reach record numbers of New Yorkers,” said Elliot G. Sander, MTA Executive Director and CEO. “In light of the current fiscal crisis, we are pushing the envelope by introducing new advertising strategies that could generate millions in additional revenue for the transit system.”

Over the past ten years, revenue derived from the sale of advertising in the MTA system has increased dramatically – from $38 million in 1997 to $106 million in 2007. A main goal of MTA Real Estate is to continue this growth by working with our various advertising contractors to develop new and vibrant advertising platforms throughout our system. In releasing the agency’s preliminary financial plan in July, Sander committed to exploring new advertising revenue sources. The result of that promise was a multi-pronged strategy developed in consultation with MTA’s subway advertising contractor, CBS Outdoor, and released today as a pilot project.

The primary feature of this new effort is History’s™ “Cities of the Underworld” promotion, planned for the month of October, which will employ a large-form vinyl display of creative promotional graphics on the interior and exterior walls of a Times Square Shuttle train. This will be the first time that a subway car has been fully wrapped in New York City.

“Opportunities like this exciting promotion for “Cities of the Underworld” help us to create a captivating experience and convey to consumers the immersive look and feel of this television series,” said Chris Moseley, Senior Vice President, Marketing, for History™. “We were looking for creative ways to engage commuters with this unique series and to feel the underworld right in the heart of New York City; the wrapped Shuttle train was a perfect fit.”

As part of this October initiative, CBS will employ three additional display strategies. First, the staircase at the Grand Central end of the Times Square Shuttle will be fitted with vinyl displays. Second, one of the remaining Times Square Shuttle trains between Grand Central and Times Square stations will include exterior panel displays. In addition, these exterior panel displays will also be posted on trains that move through Grand Central Terminal and Times Square stations (numbers 1, 3, 4, and 7 trains). And, third, the turnstile arms in the Shuttle fare control areas at Times Square and Grand Central Stations will be equipped with ad covers.

In the future, when able to be sold as a single package, these strategies will create a dramatic new symbiotic station advertising product that will command a premium above any other display sold on its own. Such a premium package will generate an additional $1 million per year in advertising revenues for the MTA from the Shuttle alone. If this test at Grand Central/Times Square stations is successful, other high-traffic stations could easily be included for similar sales packages.

In addition to the above efforts in the GCT/Times Square Area, in the first quarter of 2009 Times Square Shuttle tunnel will also become the home of the first in-tunnel advertising installation. The shuttle riders will be able to view a full motion video presentation through the window of the shuttle car. The MTA is also planning to pilot test a digital dominated station concept at two of the NYCT stations, Grand Central Shuttle Station and 42nd and 6th Avenue Station mezzanine (Bryant Park).

To further expand the advertising revenue base, MTA in partnership with Titan Outdoor (its MTA bus and commuter rail advertising contractor), will be pilot testing digital advertising on one of its NYCT buses and, if successful, hope to expand the program to approximately 200 buses. In addition, a similar digital advertising pilot test is planned for in car commuter rail displays in the near future.

The MTA will realize over $125 million in 2008 in advertising revenues. If these new initiatives are implemented on a permanent base, the MTA expects these revenues to grow substantially.

Click here to see some pictures of the fully wrapped shuttle train.

New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue had his own spin in this report:

A shuttle train running between Times Square and Grand Central Station has been turned into a billboard on rails.

The train’s exterior is plastered with an ad for the History Channel – the first campaign of its kind in the city’s subway system.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials Thursday will unveil the train, which will run as a pilot program before officials decide to do similar campaigns on the shuttle or elsewhere in the system.

Click here for the complete article.

As far as more advertising in the subway, I will reiterate my feelings from an earlier post:

The thought of advertisements dominating the transit landscape conjures different emotions depending on who you ask. I for one am not bothered by the thought of more advertisements if it brought some financial relief to the agency. While the thought of a branded subway car is not the most appealing thing, I can look past it as the agency’s finances are more important than what I feel visually as a transit buff.

I do wonder about one thing though. Is the MTA doing enough to capitalize on the advertising opportunities? While it is nice that the agency projects higher earnings this year, the difference from last year seems small from what it was from 2006 to 2007. With the amount of subway stations alone, I would think they should make more than $4 million from the previous year. When you factor in the space from their buses, commuter railroads & such, the # should be even higher. Hopefully this will be the case in the near future.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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