The Award for Marketing Initiative of the Year

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This category is open to operators and local authorities either separately or in conjunction with one another.

For this category, we are looking for successful promotional ideas and campaigns which get the message about services over to the target market by advertising, PR activity or sales promotion schemes.

The winner will be able to show that the initiative

  • created an impact
  • won ‘hearts and minds’
  • created or developed a strong brand or improved the image of bus travel
  • helped to change public perceptions and/or consumer behaviour.

Any methods in the marketing toolbox can be used: branding, business-to-business, direct mail, media advertising, the internet, PR or a combination of all or some of these techniques.

The important thing is that the initiative will have delivered measurable results, building on strong research. In addition, clear monitoring will have enabled managers to judge results. Projects which are able to demonstrate some innovative thinking will also score well.

The 2015 Results

Winner, Gold Award, Buses on Ice and more! - Reading Buses

Spreading some Christmas cheer, the Reading Buses Grand Christmas Giveaway encouraged selfies with Santa and a ground-breaking performance of 'Buses on Ice!' The serious message of promoting buses as the best way to get into town, while working with town partners to jointly promote events. People voted with their feet with 60% more customers travelling than five years ago. The campaign aligned Reading's Business Improvement District and other town activities to growing patronage, spreading Christmas cheer, thanking customers and playing an important part in reducing congestion.

The judges were very impressed by the wide range of participants in the partnership behind the campaign and by the thought that went into it, the associated feel-good factor and the end result of squeezing a lot out of the market. The judges praised a very clever and well-executed campaign.

Winner, Silver Award

County Durham and Tees Valley Direct Marketing Project - Darlington Borough Council

Durham County Council, the five Tees Valley Unitary Authorities, Stagecoach, Arriva and Go North East all worked together to deliver a Direct Marketing project across over 40,000 households in the Tees Valley and southern County Durham. The aim was to grow the local bus market and sell the benefits of the DfT-funded ú57m five-year Tees Valley Bus Network Improvement Project. The aim of the scheme was to provide a step change in the quality of bus services across the area and create a marketing campaign to raise awareness about the improved bus offer and entice new passengers onto the network. The campaign included free ticket vouchers to households, telephone research on travel habits, a free weekly ticket to qualifying households, and discounted travel to encourage continued use. A response rate of 8% (3,000 residents) trialled bus services and the upshot is patronage increase of 12% on some routes.

Winner, Bronze Award

The Greater Manchester Young Person's mTicket - First Manchester

Recognising a gap in the market for young passengers not in education, First Manchester set to work on a product to capture the imagination of young bus users and remove the status of the user as a barrier. Manchester's Young Person mTicket for 16-18 year olds was born and the company enlisted a 'youth blogger' to feed into the campaign. First also engaged with a dozen colleges and youth organisations including Bury College and Bolton 6th Form College. Roadshows were held to promote the product using First vehicles and using merchandise to engage with students. A key feature of the product was the absence of any requirement to provide ID but instead, the use an uploaded 'selfie' to personalise the ticket.

The judges welcomed the campaign for targeting a vital part of the market - young people - and were impressed to see the industry stepping up to the mark.


Posh & Double Decks - Arriva Merseyside

Arriva Merseyside ran a wide-ranging and highly visible marketing campaign which centred on huge investment in double deck buses in Merseyside - 36 new buses and 48 more to come by the end of 2015. The question Arriva sought to answer was how to make a double deck stand out from the crowd. In their own words 'we undertook a posh initiative to shout about our double decks!' Working with Exterion, the straplines devised were: 'Posh & Double Decks', 'You wait for a great bus, then 36 come along at the same time,' and most recently 'Seeing Double'. As well as bus advertising, the campaign included door drops within a 0.5 mile radius of routes, digital advertising, road shows, press wraps in free newspapers and beer mats and bar runners in local pubs.

The judges liked the creative use of the double deck theme throughout the campaign.

The Arriva Bus App: A Smarter Way to Travel - Arriva UK Bus

Arriva pioneered its national ticketing app in 2009. The aim of the app was to improve the customer experience of bus travel by tackling aspects which can make it unappealing by providing real-time information as an essential tool for helping customers plan their information journeys at their finger-tips. Routes maps, timetable information and ticket information about all Arriva Buses are also available.

Who could be nominated?

This category was open to operators, authorities, other organisations or partnerships participating in the securing, marketing or promotion of registered local bus services.

… and by whom?

We welcomed nominations from customers, authorities, user groups or bus operators. Self-nomination was acceptable.

The Criteria and Entry Requirements

Nominations for this Award needed to demonstrate the successful creation and implementation of one-off promotional ideas or campaigns to promote the bus.

Entries therefore needed to:

  • Provide evidence of the market research, methodology and results, carried out prior to the initiative.
  • Describe how the initiative was planned and how the targets were set for it
  • Describe the degree and nature of the innovation involved in the initiative
  • Describe their work in the project to improve or promote the accessibility of their product for all customers and, if relevant, for people with mobility difficulties
  • State how the initiative was executed, showing methods used and why, how demand was stimulated and customer access to the product improved and how potential customers were identified and informed
  • Describe how the impact of the initiative was monitored and measured
  • Describe any changes to the initiative made as a result of the monitoring
  • Supply statistical evidence showing the results of the initiative in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators, especially modal shift achieved
  • State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
  • Describe any future plans for further development
  • Include any relevant supporting material
  • Supply appropriate examples of the initiative’s materials that delivered the reported results.

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