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.

Winner, Gold Award

Busboost - South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive

Busboost is a transport initiative for South Yorkshire businesses and organisations that encourages commuters who normally travel by car, to switch to public transport for part, or all, of their journey. In the latest round of the scheme, almost 4,000 daily commuters were provided with a 28 day smartcard, enabling free use of local bus, tram and train services during the travel trial period. Seventy-seven percent of participant said they would continue to use public transport for all or part of their daily commute and would recommend public transport to other people. The initiative was developed and delivered by South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and partners as part of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund programme using funding provided by the Department for Transport.

The judges were very impressed with the outcomes of this well thought out scheme: 83% felt less stressed than driving, 60% saw an improvement in their journey time and 77% will continue to use public transport and would recommend it to others. Six months later 43% were still using public transport instead of their car on a daily basis, showing a substantial and sustained modal shift and making Busboost a Gold Winner.

Winner, Silver Award

King's City - Stagecoach South

Having run buses in Winchester for almost 30 years, Stagecoach South identified passenger growth could be attained by creating a brand and identity for the local bus network that resonated with local sensibilities, appealing to both residents and visitors and making sure that the bus felt like 'a cut above' as well as making improvements to the network and timetables and thus change the perception of bus travel. King's City is the new name and new look for Winchester's local bus network with easy to read timetables and maps, online travel planning and better rail connections at Winchester station. A new fleet of new Euro6 vehicles with free wifi, USB charging points and next stop announcement are now in use with an eye catching claret and champagne livery.

"A very well done network re-launch with real passion," said the judges. Stagecoach South identified the weaknesses in its services and fixed them, along with a significant investment in a new fleet and an engaging local livery. The judges noted that the company got its staff on onboard as well as a wide range of local stakeholders and created a high profile launch event.

Winner, Bronze Award

Bus Start - Arriva UK Bus

Arriva's Bus Start campaign was devised to challenge the perceived barriers to bus travel, encouraging people to re-evaluate their attitudes and behaviours about the use of Arriva buses. The national multi-channel campaign incorporated large outdoor billboards, 30 second radio ads, digital/mobile display advertising, CRM mailing, media relations and a combination of paid for and organic social media content. The campaign increased brand awareness, drove more downloads of the journey planning and M-ticket app and encouraged the switch to off-bus revenue through electronic ticket purchase as well as promoting the benefits and ease of bus travel generally. Bus Start exceeded all the commercial objectives set at the outset, and the outcomes continue to inform ongoing marketing activity.

The judges liked the comprehensive approach to this broad campaign. High levels of research gave plenty of measurable outcomes which demonstrated the great success of Bus Start as well as giving valuable information for future activity.


#harveyBus - 410/411 X-Factor initiative - Arriva Yorkshire

The #HarveyBus is the centrepiece of the Castleford network relaunch with idea of creating a centrepiece for the relaunch, and it seems to have won the hearts and minds of local residents, passengers and the press. The marketing initiative celebrated the first direct bus route into Leeds from the Chequerfield estate in West Yorkshire. The campaign worked closely with De Lacy Primary School in Chequerfield estate, where the majority of parents are bus users. The children at the school created their own designs for a bus exterior on the improved 410/411 service. The winning design was chosen by judges and a public vote, and was reproduced on a bus used on the route. The #HarveyBus has become a part of the community and runs past the school everyday. As the X-factor tour was coming to Leeds the week the service launched, Arriva Yorkshire took the opportunity to use this as the backbone behind the marketing.

The judges liked the way that this initiative capitalised on a moment in time to come up with an imaginative marketing hook.

First Southampton Paints the City Red - First Hampshire & Dorset

Red is Southampton's civic colour and was the livery of the city's corporation buses. To continue this tradition, in 2013 First Southampton began re-introducing red buses on some of its most popular, high frequency routes. The marketing campaign used a range of channels to make the City Red the "prefer-red" public transport service in Southampton, and passenger numbers have increased substantially on the five routes that have been rebranded so far.

The judges were pleased to see the reinvigoration of the Southampton network and noted the substantial increases in passenger numbers as a result.

New Mendip Xplorer Brand - First West of England

First West of England's service 376 links Bristol with the Somerset town of Street via Wells and Glastonbury. In recent years, passenger numbers on the route have grown steadily prompting the company to make a significant investment in the service in 2015 accompanied by a fully integrated bespoke marketing campaign to accelerate growth. To complement the arrival of eight brand new vehicles, the Mendip Xplorer brand was created to highlight the cross-country nature of the service connecting The Mendips with Bristol, linking Wells, Glastonbury and Street (which have no train services) to the railway and the city. The marketing campaign included a new Mendip Xplorer livery, uniform and name badges, new signage at bus stations and depots, and a large scale advertising campaign targeting commuters and tourists at various points along the route. The success can easily be measured by a 30% rise in passenger numbers in the first quarter of this year.

The judges noted the investment in new vehicles and were particularly pleased to see the partnerships created with visitor attractions and destinations along the route. The increase in passenger numbers speak for themselves.

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 needed therefore 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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