Saturday, 2 November 2013

Efficient Use of Space: Part 2

Last night I looked at how Trent Barton use the outside of their buses. The conclusion I came to was that, from a passenger perspective, it was well used, in that it promotes the products they offer in a smart, eye catching way.

Fairly common on Double Deck buses across the country is the 'T' style advert board, utilising the space between the decks and where the staircase goes.
 

Tonight, I'm going to look at operators who do things in a very different way. In particular, operators who ‘donate’ space on the outside of their buses to allow other companies to promote their products or services.
Providing they don't conflict with the livery, or cover up any fleet name, and are contained within a box like above, side adverts can look quite presentable...

This certainly isn’t the only occasion whereby Trent Barton and First York appear at opposite ends of the spectrum. First York certainly aren’t the only company to feature advertising, indeed it is somewhat uncommon for Trent Barton to not do so. However, seeing as both pass by my home and term time homes, they’re a fitting comparison in this instance. The fact that First York’s vehicles have, over the past year, featured the broadest range of styles of adverts also helps, of course.
...but just sticking them on the side looks awful

There certainly is an argument that having buses with third party adverts is a good thing. It means additional income for the operator, which in turn means a reduction in the price of fares. The counter argument to that is; ‘would more people travel if they weren’t travelling on moving billboards?’ Does the use of advertisements diminish the image of bus travel? Can Trent Barton attribute part of their success to not having advertisements? Contravision adverts also, in my opinion, drastically reduce the customer’s experience, by creating a darker environment and also reducing visibility out of the windows. Whilst I doubt it is high on many passengers’ priority list, many people say how they enjoy looking out of the windows of buses as they see more than at the wheel of the car. Putting an advertiser’s interests over that of passengers is a sin in my opinion and any company that does so needs to remind themselves that they exist to serve passengers and that should always be the focus.
Rear adverts are a great place to promote your service to car users, as First demonstrate here. It seems daft to waste that space promoting third parties

Advertisements are also not guaranteed to fit in with the livery of the bus itself, either. When time and effort is put into designing and applying a livery, designed to look both and appealing, it seems somewhat counterproductive to ruin this by sticking adverts over the top of this. TM Travel is a perfect example of this. Adverts were coarsely applied to the side of buses, covering up the company name and going against the curve of the livery. They looked rubbish. When adverts are applied in such a way, it diminishes the appeal of bus travel and worsens the impression people have of your product. For that reason, it seems that bus adverts do more damage than good.
Some of York's fleet is fitted with these rather unique high level advert boards

Finally, once an advert has been applied, there is the risk that it may not come off for a while. One sector that likes to advertise on buses is the film sector. New releases will promote themselves on the sides of buses up and down the country, with Derby being no exception. Some years ago now, “17 again”, starring Zac Efron was released. Some of Notts and Derby’s fleet received adverts for the release that were still there a year later. Not because the contract was a year in length, I presume, just that there wasn’t sufficient demand for those buses to get replacement adverts. When certain companies are making an active effort to show that bus travel is still a good way to travel in the 21st Century, it seems that their good work is being undone with such scenarios where it looks like buses are literally stuck in the past. The other, even more disastrous outcome, is that the adverts start to disintegrate and the buses look even worse.
Whilst Transdev offer a smart, Stenning designed livery, First have covered their bus with an advert for a legal firm. This includes covering all passenger windows with contravision

So, from a passenger perspective, adverts on buses are a big ‘no-no.’ No doubt an accountant would tell me that I was mad, and that not having adverts would not be sustainable. So, are adverts a good revenue source for the industry that it’d be mad to get rid of, or are they an eyesore that the industry should move away from? I certainly know which camp I’m in, yet I can see things carrying on the way they are for some time to come.
 
All photos are courtesy of Chris Nelson. His flickr photostream can be seen here

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