European marketers jump on the train branding band wagon

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PARIS -- Leading European marketers are riding the rails this autumn in a bid to promote their products to a captive audience of train passengers. A three week promotion starting September 9 between Nestle and French train operator SNCF will offer First Class passengers on morning trains to major destinations a free breakfast of Nestle products including instant coffee, breakfast cereal, yogurt, fruit juice and chocolate. Nestle is also inserting into SNCF's "inflight" monthly magazine Grandes Lignes a special advertising supplement on the benefits of eating breakfast.

Nestle hopes to plant the idea in the minds of business travelers that despite their active lives they should still find time to enjoy breakfast. SNCF believes the promotion will convert more business people to rail travel.

Across Europe marketers are branding the interiors and exteriors of trains in an attempt to cut through advertising clutter found on broadcast and print media. In Spain, brewer San Miguel reached an agreement in Spain with the Catalonian regional railway authority to use one of the carriages on the busy Valles Oriental line to promote its products over a two-year period. The carriage will be covered with San Miguel's color and logo and there will be promotions inside to help launch its new Ice Beer. Across the border in Portugal Coca-Cola is covering an entire train in Lisbon, including its windows, with a special film developed by 3M which is opaque on the outside and translucent from within.

Last year in the U.K., 3M was the first to advertise on the exterior of a British Rail train. The 3M initiative not only promoted its own Post-It office notepads and Scotch video tape brands, but was also designed to sell marketers on the production technique pioneered by its 3M Commercial Graphics Group - although one of London's entire subway trains had already been covered in United Airlines' livery.

Copyright September 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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