Sleek Ads Tout Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority as … Sexy?

Get ready for 'The Ride of Your Life'

Can advertising make riding public transportation seem as chill and sexy as piloting the latest European sports car or luxury sedan from Detroit? 

Of course not. Though Brokaw's campaign for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which cheekily employs high-end car-commercial clichés, might make viewers consider what the RTA has to offer.

Take the first spot below, for example, which opens with shots of a biz-casual dude on the phone, striding toward his car. When a commuter train passes, he stares longingly, its image reflected in his designer shades. 

"What if you took the road less traveled," a voiceover begins, "and what if that road was … train tracks?" 

Shifting between macho-confident tones and breathless whispers, the narration continues: "Introducing the 2019 RTA Rail Lines, engineered to deliver ultra-safe service seven days a week. It's primary destinations: Your wildest dreams ... but mostly Little Italy, West Side Market, downtown, the airport, the Flats East Bank, Shaker Square and Browns stadium—you know, a lot of places."

The ad ends by promising "The Ride of Your Life," and urging folks to take a "test drive" today. 

Three additional spots travel a similar route, including bus pitches that ask, "What if your rush-hour had the ease of a lakeside breeze?" and "What if you put your work commute to work for you?" 

"Based on our research, there's a perception in this town that driving is something to aspire to, and that transit is second rate," Brokaw creative director Steve McKeown tells Muse. "The thing is, RTA is a high-quality service, and the lines we're promoting are genuinely nice. And once we started playing with the idea of selling transit and the features of these vehicles like high-end cars, everything started to fall into place." 

The luxe vibe rolls on with the RTA website, which boasts the look and feel of an auto-dealer web page, complete with "hero" bus shots and copy urging commuters to "explore our 2019 lineup." 

A week of free "test rides" were given away in direct mailers, "so we could track redemption," says Brokaw associate creative director/copywriter Mark McKenzie. "One of our biggest hurdles is just getting people to break routine and try RTA. It doesn't get much easier than a $0 commute." 

McKenzie adds: "Anecdotally, many of us [at the agency] are also legitimate fans of RTA. I personally live along the Cleveland State Line route, and watching the sun set over Lake Erie on your way home is bananas delightful."

CREDITS

Agency: Brokaw
Art Director & Creative Director: Steve McKeown
Copywriter & Associate Creative Director: Mark McKenzie
Account Executive: Joe McLaughlin
Strategic Planner: Jessica Thompson
Senior Media Strategist: Megan Pinson
Digital Media Planner: Katie Vrettos
Digital Media Strategist: Brittani Bloomberg
Web Developer: Mike Krueger
Production Company: Favorite Brother
Director of Photography: Brandon Jones
Animator: Sarah Wagner
Editor: Aaron McBride
Producer: Zorina Kennedy
Client: Steve Bitto, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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