GO Transit delivers its safety message with a smile

Who: GO Transit, with BBDO Canada and Flare.

What: “Safety Never Stops,” a new campaign demonstrating the more than 40 safety measures Ontario’s GO Transit has put in place to ensure rider safety during the pandemic.

When & Where: Ads will be appearing on the GO Transit website and social media channels, accompanied by digital, print and billboard ads.

Why: The goal here is to allay fears about public transit, assuring GO and UP Express riders that the regional transit authority is making their health and safety a priority, says Metrolinx spokesperson Fannie Sunshine.

Not surprisingly, there is considerable consumer unease about using public transport during the pandemic.

GO Transit ridership plummeted during the crisis, with its April ridership down 90% and revenues falling from $11 million to $1 million per week. Sunshine says that ridership is now “steadily climbing” to the highest levels seen since mid-March.

How: Anticipating that its messaging would be going up against a lot of other health and safety communications, GO Transit had to make the work as “engaging as possible,” said Sunshine.

A 45-second video stars actor/comedian Daryl Hinds (actually multiple versions of Hinds), demonstrating all of the various safety measures GO Transit is enacting to keep riders safe, from cleaning trains and buses multiple times each day; giving everything a fresh spray of antimicrobial germ protection and installing thousands of hand sanitizer dispensers.

One of the creative challenges was outlining all of its safety measures in such a short time, and Hinds was able to deliver the 150-word script in 45 seconds. “We needed a confident actor with comedy and improv chops and the ability to speak quickly. Darryl was perfect,” says Sunshine.

Who knew transit could be so funny: Whether it’s last year’s “The Bus. From GO. The GO Bus” or the well-received “Transit Change: It’s Happening” from earlier this year, GO Transit and its parent Metrolinx have managed to inject a sense of humour into a relatively staid category like public transport.

“GO Transit certainly has a personality, and even with the serious topic of customer safety, we wanted to make sure our messages are delivered in our authentic and memorable voice,” says Sunshine. “Whether you’re listening to an on-board announcement, engaging with one of our ads on social media, or receiving an email update from us, it’s important for us to carry a consistent brand personality that is understanding, honest and optimistic.”

GO Transit has even released a “blooper reel” from the shoot (see it below).

And we quote: “We’ve leapt from making buses sexy to using awkward teens—and no visuals of  construction—to talk about construction. Now we’re making cleaning fun. It’s fabulous to see the creativity generated each and every day, and we’re so proud of the work.” — Mark Childs, chief marketing and communications officer, Metrolinx.

Chris Powell