Spurrier Group served as the media agency of record for Amtrak Virginia, part of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, for four years. At the beginning of the contract, the Commonwealth Transportation Board provided operational funding to support a three-year pilot program for two new rail corridors – one between Lynchburg and Washington, DC and the other between Richmond and Washington, DC. Both trains would continue to additional destinations in the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and provide more transportation options to commuters and travelers who reside in these key markets.
Who Were We Talking To (The Audience)
Recognizing that almost three-fourths of Amtrak’s passengers were leisure travelers, Spurrier Group built a strategy to engage adults (age 40+ and HHI above $100k) who preferred traveling via train over driving. Secondary audiences included college students, business travelers and the military.
What Did We Want To Tell Them (The Strategy)
The objective of our campaign was to promote the new rail service, which was significant because it provided Amtrak’s first daily service from Charlottesville to Washington, and the first Amtrak daily passenger service from Culpeper to Manassas, Alexandria, and Washington, DC
How Did We Tell Them (The Creative)
Key drivers for the target audience included an easy commute with little stress and no traffic congestion. As a result, our creative partner developed advertising concepts that focused on these core attributes and encouraged people to opt for Amtrak instead of traffic congestion.
Where Did We Tell Them (The Media)
Our budget for the media campaign was very limited. Thus, we selected advertising mediums that would deliver the greatest return on investment during the launch window – specifically newspaper, out-of-home, spot radio, digital banner advertising and Facebook advertising.
Was It Effective (The Results)
In the first year of operation, the new Lynchburg service carried over 126,000 passengers – more than double the Commonwealth’s ridership goal. It also raised $7.5 million in ticket revenue – triple the revenue goal of $2.5 million. Today, the Lynchburg train is one of the best performing state-supported trains in Amtrak’s system. The new Richmond/Northeast Corridor Line is also doing very well. Across the Commonwealth, Amtrak ridership is up 99% since 2009.