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 2014 Results

So bracing - a ride on Stagecoach's Skegness seasiders Gold Award Winner

Skegness Seasiders, Stagecoach East Midlands

Stagecoach's Skegness Seasiders are six individual liveried Open Top buses presented as named characters with classic seaside themes. In addition to providing transport between the top tourist destinations of Skegness and Ingoldmells, the buses have quickly become attractions in their own right amongst children by using story books, giveaways, and incentives for children and their families to travel on all six individual buses. The judges were impressed by this original approach to both the product and the marketing process, and felt the scheme provides a number of top quality ideas that can be used to re-invigorate not just this type of seasonal service but marginal commercial services generally.

Understanding perceptions about bus fares in BristolFairer Fares, Bristol Fare Consultation, First West of England

First West of England ran its biggest ever campaign: to develop simpler, fairer fares in Bristol and improve its image, using eye-catching, new style marketing materials to deliver clear messages and raise a high level of awareness. Following extensive consultation on the cost of travel, the marketing campaign around the outcomes included a dedicated website, roadshows and a month-long advertising campaign. The judges were particularly impressed with First's use of integrated marketing and public relations techniques to engage with its target audience in a really effective way and its brave approach in embarking on such a process. As a result of the feedback and consequent changes, First has successfully altered perceptions about bus service in Bristol and encouraged a considerable increase in bus use, with 15% year-on-year growth.

Promoting night services in EdinburghBronze Award

Nightbus Home safe: Midnight to 4.30am, Lothian Buses

Lothian Buses launched a fully revised NightBus service under a new brand identity in July 2013, after listening to customer and driver feedback. A broad multi-channel campaign was rolled out over six months with promotional activity increased over Christmas to capitalise on Edinburgh City Centre's busiest period of late night travel. The result is a 48% increase in Nightbus passenger numbers and an established brand reflecting safe and reliable night-time transport. From initial market research to clever and intensive marketing of the revamped product - not least countering the perception of anti-social behaviour associated with late-night travel - the judges felt this was a textbook model of how to re-launch a network of bespoke services.


Another clever and witty campaign from Arriva North EastX1/1/1b - people disappearing every 15 minutes, Arriva North East

Seeking to promote the frequency of three services along a particular section of route, increase passenger numbers and capitalise on a £1m investment in new buses, Arriva North East devised a 'people disappearing' campaign. The strapline, with its use of humour and messaging targeted at particular types of infrequent bus user has really made people sit up and take notice to the extent that the initiative generated year-on-year growth in passenger numbers of over 15%. This impressed the judges hugely, who considered the campaign a fine example of how marketing tailored to particular audiences can have a major effect on bus use.

Meeting the challenges of student life - First's campaignFirst Bus (North Region) Student Campaign, First UK Bus (North Region)

Tapping into the challenges a student who has moved away from home may face, First devised a 'No Scary Bears' campaign to reach out to the student market. The company impressed the judges by taking the generation of student travel to a new level with pre-sales activity by creating a direct mail pack with follow-up e-mails using data sourced from UCAS, along with a 'No Scary Bears' campaign website and an 'early bird' ticket offer. Parents were targeted and encouraged to set up direct debits to pay for bus travel before their siblings left for university. This and imaginative initiatives such as with residential lettings agents and students at Freshers' Fayres generated substantial increases in sales and revenue.

Attention seeking behaviour - trentbarton getting noticedFreeride Sunday, Trent Barton

Freeride Sunday is trentbarton's extremely imaginative way of growing passenger numbers and revenue at quieter times of the day and the week. Through the promotion of a flash offer of free rides for one hour, it generated 8% more journeys across the whole Sunday - and 38% more in the promotional hour. On-bus revenue also grew by 7% with the extra people travelling back later in the day. Supported by clever marketing, the judges felt that this genuinely innovative idea, low-risk and inexpensive to execute, had major potential for use elsewhere, as well as generating much goodwill among local traders and the community at large.

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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