THE LITTLE CAMPAIGN THAT COULD

By Published on .

Most Popular
It may seem strange that a new campaign for a high-speed train would ignore the concept of raw locomotion and avoid any explanation of the technology behind the service. But DDB/New York chose to do just that with its esoteric "Life on Acela" teaser campaign for Amtrak's new, superfast Acela Express, which is due to hit the rails next year.

According to executive creative director Ken Shuldman, sidestepping the acceleration of Acela makes sense. "Speed is more of a news story," he says. "All you have to do is pick up a schedule to see that. We're building a brand."

Co-chief creative officer Steven Landsberg concurs. "The real focus is on creating anticipation of Acela's arrival. Rather than taking a more conventional approach and talking about speed and how it minimizes the time, we wanted to talk about how Acela maximizes time. It's a really smart, subversive way to look at it."

Subversive is right. Much of it can be downright confusing at first. The print work features what Shuldman calls "the visual and verbal language of Acela," including its own specially designed typeface.

The "A to B" part of the campaign, with words like "elbow room" fitting snugly between those two letters, is running as a series of transit ads. The implication is that "Anything can happen between points A and B," as one of the few plain-spoken ads notes. Consider it a teaser to the main teaser. The campaign is primarily outdoor, because, as Shuldman points out, "A train is a very outdoor thing." The four commercials premiered as cinema spots during Phantom Menace and feature the same bluish tinge and puzzling tone as the print work. In "Unwind," a man walking in the crunch of rush hour suddenly stops, stretches his arms and just spins. The tag: "Find a Better Place. Life on Acela."

Says Shuldman: "We want people to see these spots and say, 'That was Amtrak?' "

CCO: Steven Landsberg ECD/CW: Ken Shuldman CD/AD: Jeroen Bours ADS: Fernando Lecca, Toygar Bazarkaya & Lara Gilmore Director: Sebastian Chantral, Premiere Heure Producer: Cheryl Gackstetter Post: Renee Schroeder, Superior Assembly Editor: James Haygood, Superior Assembly Sound Design: Kim Christenson, Noises

In this article: