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METROLINER COURTS LEISURE TRAVEL;FIRST TOURISM PITCH FOR AMTRAK'S EAST COAST TRAIN

By Published on .

Print ads breaking next month for Amtrak's Metroliner service pitch the 25-year-old East Coast business-class train to leisure travelers for the first time.

The campaign, from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, calls the Metroliner "the smarter shuttle" and uses stylish characters to tout its service between sophisticated urban destinations and comfort features like cafe dining and phone service. The tagline is "Why should business travelers have all the fun?"

Metroliner, which serves major cities between New York and Washington, wants to expand beyond its gray-suit image.

The campaign asks the train's affluent customer base and other travelers to consider Metroliner for getaways, according to Jose Banzon, DDB Needham's management supervisor on the Amtrak account.

LESS THAN $5 MIL

The first flight of the campaign, completed for fall and pending further Amtrak budgeting for spring, is a less-than-$5 million effort, according to DDB Needham insiders.

Early executions of the campaign will refer to a new co-ticketing relationship between Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service, which includes Metroliner and Ticketmaster. These ads will list Ticketmaster's toll-free number in the fine print.

Later executions will play up specific events in different Metroliner cities and cite Ticketmaster as a full-service ticketing source.

"We're still trying to finalize a partnership with Ticketmaster whereby we can market train travel, sporting events, theater and family entertainment together," said Amtrak's Joseph DiVincenzo, manager-advertising and promotion for Northeast Corridor. "The goal is to get to a one-price shopping option, hopefully one with savings."

Plans to refer to the Amtrak relationship in Ticketmaster advertising are still under discussion.

ADS IN CULTURAL PUBLICATIONS

Ads will run in publications associated with cultural events. The fall media buy includes a schedule in Ticketmaster's monthly Live!, New York, Philadelphia, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, and local issues of in-theater title Playbill.

Amtrak's total ad spending increased in 1996 to an estimated $40 million, split after a February review.

Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, won $25 million of work for Amtrak's Intercity and corporate branding and DDB Needham handles $15 million of business for the Northeast Corridor and West Coast.M

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

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