Metrolink Campaign to Support Ridership: Customer Appreciation Day

Target Audience: Our target audience was our riders—current and lapsed. Having lost 90% of our ridership in the midst of the pandemic beginning March 2020, we've recovered a lot of our ridership, but still have riders who have yet to return or who have transitioned in their career to a position in which they do not require taking the train to commute. As 2022 was our 30th year of service, we wanted to thank our current riders and everyone who has taken the train since 1992.

Strategy Objective:Our objective was to celebrate 30 years of love between Metrolink and its riders on Valentine's Day, which has been our Customer Appreciation Day for the past few years. Our strategy was to present creative that harkened back to 90s nostalgia and kitschy grade-school valentines (think Will Smith in his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air getup with garish colors and a cheesy, yet appropriate pickup line). We knew this creative would present us in a warmer, more humorous light and endear us to our riders. We centered our tactics on this central theme, telling riders that we "choo-choo-choose them," and expressed that love at station pop-ups on each of our lines, via conductor announcements, robotic station advisory messaging, and via digital messaging (social media, email, a video from our CEO, etc.).

Situation Challenge: The pendulum of the COVID-19 pandemic was precarious to follow in a year of masks on, masks off, and masks on again. Are we allowed to have an in-person event? Is it responsible to do so? Are we being safe? Should this be a digital initiative only? Okay, we can do an in-person pop-up, but we have to be masked and any of our giveaway items must be individually wrapped. The winds were constantly changing with how to pull this event off, and the temperature of the room kept changing in the months leading up to it. Ultimately, our desire was to celebrate our riders in a way that would reach them and create a lasting impression, but in a responsible and safe fashion as well.

Results Impact: Ridership for February 14, 2022 was 10,876, up 11% from the previous Monday. Pop-ups in Los Angeles, Fullerton, Lancaster, Northridge, Rancho Cucamonga, and Riverside were popular among morning riders (4 of 6 distributed all of their merchandise and candy allotment). The associated email received an open rate of 37%, surpassing our campaign goal by 5%. Organic videos received 6,994 views on the day of the event. The press coverage reached an audience of 931,180 with an estimated ad value of $115,806. Social media posts received 94,240 impressions with an especially high engagement rate for Instagram (9%). Sentiment in social media comments for the campaign was positive overall.

Why Submit: We really stretched ourselves as an agency and pushed the envelope beyond our governmental and stiff history. We got our CEO to play along with us in his awesome video address complete with corny dad jokes. We gave out thousands of free merchandise items and (wrapped) candies to our riders, surprising and delighting them during their morning commute (some as early as 5am). We wanted our riders to see and hear our love and affection for them, and that is exactly what we achieved as evidenced by their in-person reaction as well as in the comments we received via social media. This event and the campaign surrounding it was us with a boombox outside their home, serenading them in an embarrassing, but endearing sort of way. The love was felt. We celebrate that. We hope you feel the love, too!