Amtrak Airs First National Campaign in 15 Years

Prime-Time TV Spots Sell Long-Distance Rail as an Experience

By Published on .

This year, see America. With this call to action Amtrak started this week its first national campaign in 15 years, aimed at raising awareness of long-distance train travel as an experience.

With the tagline "500 Destinations. Infinite Stories", the campaign comprises of one 30-second spot, six 15-second spots and a social media campaign to encourage Amtrak riders to share their stories using the hashtag #AmtrakStories.

Amtrak's ridership is in a rising trend since 1997, according to a 2013 study from Washington-based think tank Brookings Institute, but short-distance corridors in only 10 metropolitan areas make the bulk of the company's revenue. In fiscal year 2013, the company's ridership was 31 million passengers.

Before this national campaign, Amtrak's advertising efforts were concentrated in promoting services in the Northeastern corridor, such as the Acela high-speed train from Washington to Boston, according to Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak's senior director of national advertising. "We have a huge market share in the Corridor," she said. "Before, we had a more linear approach, promoting certain products like Acela. Now we want to focus on the brand holistically."

The campaign was created by FCB Garfinkel and took one year from initial concept to launch. The 30-second spot targets both leisure and business travelers, while the 15-second ones aim at empty nesters and millennials. "We wanted to offer a point of view from both inside and outside the train'," said Lee Garfinkel, the agency's CEO, referring to the scenic views showcased in the spots, "to show what the passengers get to witness sitting in the train. It's something that you don't get in other modes of transportation."

The 30-second spot is scheduled to air in slots during ABC and NBC's seasaon premieres this week and the next, in shows like " Dancing with the Stars," "The Voice," "Modern Family" and "Nashville."

The 15-second spots will be distributed on Youtube and Hulu in the following markets: Boston, Providence, Rhode Island; Philadelphia; Wilmington, Delaware; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Seattle; Portland; San Francisco; Miami; New Orleans; Minneapolis; Orlando, Fla.; Atlanta and Dallas.

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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article described the campaign as having one 30-second spot and two 15-second spots, as it was stated in an initial press release by Amtrak. Subsequently, the company clarified that it is in fact one 30-second spot and six 15-second spots, with the latter being used in digital placements.

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