Via Rail Wants You To Hit Skip

June 4, 2018 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Road closures. Construction. Rush hour. Delays.

Does this combination of words make you just want to rage? Most commuters would.

Especially in Toronto, when our two unofficial seasons happen to be winter and construction, commuting can be an adventure on its own. Via Rail, having hosted 3.97 million passenger trips in 2016 alone, gets that.

Done with Cossette and touché!, Via Rail has launched the final phase of its “Why Don’t You Take The Train?” campaign.

Consisting of two new videos (one work, one vacation related), the ads offer up hilariously (but also painfully) accurate depictions of conversations around, you guessed it, traffic. The twist however, is that each minute-long video encourages readers to skip those monotonous traffic rants, each broken down into 12-15 second sections.  

No, seriously. Check it out below.  

Jumping from convo to convo as the viewer hits skip, these ads push just how much of our daily time is taken up by traffic and ultimately, frustrating commuting experiences. And they did it oh so cleverly.

This is what captured our minutes.

Here’s why:

1. The ads surprised us.

An ad that wants us to skip it? Sign us up.

This might sound counter-intuitive coming from a hub belonging to a creative agency, but we can seriously appreciate how the work made use of playback functionalities to drive the message home and actually get people to watch through to the end.

People tend to automatically look for a skip button when they see a pre-roll ad. Clearly this creative took advantage of that, grabbing people’s attention but then allowing the rest of the content to play out.

Then, the surprise of seeing each story continue and build actually made us want to keep watching. They were short enough, with a quick hit of branding, that we didn’t feel as though our eyeballs were being held prisoner.

To us, it’s this simple switch that made all the work so smart.

2. Relatability meets compelling format.

So, we’ve already established that this content is super relatable, purely based on subject matter.

However, it’s the format that makes it so interesting. Skip button aside, the idea of framing it from the perspective of what happens after the commute has actually happened is what makes this different from the typical “commuting” ad.

Think about it. Most ads show the person during the commute, huffing and puffing. That’s the obvious choice.

But what those ads miss out on are how people don’t want to remain stuck in that commuting moment. They already made it through the delay, they don’t want to relive it for the rest of their day.

As Via Rail’s senior manager of marketing and optimization Simon Parent explained to Strategy, “it’s the first time that we use the discussions on traffic as the inconvenience, rather than showing the person stuck in traffic.”

This is where Via Rail’s opportunity to express its mission of being “a smarter way to move people” lay.

By showing how commuting conversations often get dragged out, Via Rail was able to get people thinking of how they could better commute and by extension, get back to the things that matter more, faster.

Live on, brand mission.  

3. It targets the right emotions by keeping it local.

This is a relatively small touch, but one that makes people’s ears buzz.

Throughout the ads, one can hear local references to things like the 401 being packed or trying to navigate the “Don Valley Parking Lot.”

While most local transportation routes in the GTA have done similar moves, it’s just an added bonus to viewers to re-emphasize that Via Rail is local but also understands those specific frustrations. And, more importantly, that it understands where people are and where they need to get to.

Personalization will always make viewers feel special. And that’s something that keeps their attention longer.

Congrats to Via Rail, Cossette and touché! on a smart campaign. Seems like the campaign will have a smooth ride.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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