Artful Ads Remind Brits Not to Act Like Animals on Mass Transit

VMLY&R touts consideration and empathy

Please, don't act like an animal—rude, loud, inconsiderate—when you ride buses and trains in the U.K.

To make that appeal, the country's Department for Transport dispatches alpacas, bulls, hyenas and other critters across an artful animated campaign stressing empathy and inclusiveness.

Devised by VMLY&R, the campaign, "It's Everyone's Journey," seeks to encourage positive behaviors while avoiding preachiness or finger pointing. The animations from Nexus Studios show human travelers morphing into disagreeable beasts while behaving badly and, in most cases, transforming back into homo sapiens when showing respect and kindness.

At its heart, of course, this is a serious subject, especially for folks with disabilities, who make up 20 percent of the U.K. population. They travel up to a third less, and one in four avoid buses and rail lines, owing to the negative attitudes and rudeness of other passengers.

With that constituency in mind (though the ads target all riders), the campaign employs various media formats, with a couple of :30 videos being the most expansive examples of the breezy-yet-biting creative approach:

It's Everyone's Journey | Bus
It's Everyone's Journey | Train

"We knew that mentioning the transport system to any Brit would provoke an instant angry knee jerk, so we needed a gentle approach," agency senior creative Perle Arteta tells Muse. "The idea of using an animated film and a catchy, charming song came from the trend of animations being geared toward a more adult audience. We're seeing more and more animation in movie theaters and at the Oscars that are using this surreal medium to narrate stories with a deeper underlying message: Loving Vincent, The Red Turtle and Hair Love, to name a few."

The work reminds everyone to be on their best behavior, and seeks to reassure the disabled community "who feel they can't travel due to the attitudes of others," Arteta says. "We need them to see that the transport system is changing, that people are learning, and to give them the support they need to feel more included."

In terms of style, "we decided to go for an adult version of a children's book," she says. "We added a bit of grit to our characters to make them look modern and culturally relevant."

Working with London music house Siren, the team tapped Ben Cocks to co-write and sing the brief original song, with lyrics by VMLY&R:

"What a funny old lot we can be
Whilst traveling from A to B
Stampeding and huffing and barging and tutting
We can do better than that, can't we?
So just a tad, a smidge—it's nicer, wouldn't you say?
See, a little consideration can go a really long way
Remember, it's everyone's journey."

"We were inspired by one of our favorite ads: Honda 'Grrr,' " says Christopher Joyce, also a senior creative at VMLY&R. "We used a waltz style because it's catchy and pretty unused as a mnemonic in advertising. It's odd to hear a waltz lifting the mood up! Something memorable without being irritating. Our singer and music composer was chosen to make the words feel everyday, approachable and folksy."

These mobile-friendly clips zoom in on specific rider actions:

It's Everyone's Journey | Beaver
It's Everyone's Journey | Bull
It's Everyone's Journey | Emus
It's Everyone's Journey | Bus Stop
It's Everyone's Journey | Alpacas
It's Everyone's Journey | Tortoises
It's Everyone's Journey | Hyenas

Yeah, never sit behind a bunch of hyenas on your morning commute.

Joyce says the animal motif, while seemingly novel, was actually a no-brainer.

"When we travel across the U.K., we Brits can behave a bit like animals," he says. "The animals represent an effective way to get the attention of the viewer and have them recognize themselves in the negative behavior. You wouldn't react positively looking at a human barging into another to get to their train—but you might admit that sometimes you forget you manners, becoming a little bullish. The animation was a way to depict that reality while creating a world where the animal inside us could be seen."

You can see more beastly behaviors (many of them tamed) in the OOH work below:


Creative Credits

Client: Department for Transport
Agency: VMLY&R

Chief Creative Officer: Laurent Simon
Chairman: Mark Roalfe
Creative Director: Gavin McGrath
Senior Creative: Perle Arteta, Christopher Joyce
Head of Design: Chris Willis
Strategy Director: Jonathan Ewles
Strategist: Micha Levy
Business Director: Rebecca Bright
Senior Account Manager: Elliot Duck
Producer: Tanya Fitzgerald
Project Director: Beth Dooley

Production Company - Nexus Studios                     
Director - Smith & Foulkes                                           
Executive Creative Director - Chris O’Reilly
Producer - Tracey Cooper                                                            
Production Manager - Rebecca Archer                                   
Art Director - Callum Strachan                                   
Project Supervisor - Dave Hunt
Design - Sam Nassour, Signe Cold              
Storyboards - Morgan Ritchie                                      
Lead Animator - Bishoy Gendi                                                                    
Animation - Duncan Gist, Marlène Beaube, Sean Weston
Clean up animation - Joanna Boyle, Chiara Sgatti, Alexandra “Sasha” Balan, Eleonora Quario, Alex Dray, Christina Nerlan  
Composite - Thomas Ricquier, Jesse Richards, Bethany Levy                                          
Music - Siren
Sound Design - Factory
Media agency – Planning: Wavemaker
Client Lead: Louise Rowcliffe
Strategy Lead: Robin Thomas
Strategy Director: Matt Hirschler
Account Manager: Ben Isaacs 

Media agency – Buying: Manning Gottlieb
Client Lead: Richard Haywood
Effectiveness Manager: Ben Lees

Partnership Agency: 23Red
Creative Director – Sean Kinmont
Head of Design – Rob Garner
Client Partner – Rachel Tattersdill
Account Director – John Coote

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