Thursday, January 10, 2013

train in vain

The Bigjigs wooden toy company's pitch to take over the UK's West Coast mainline rail franchise is an early contender for pr/marketing genius stroke of the year.

The franchise was up for proposals, contenders included Firstgroup and eventual winners Virgin.

In a letter written by Bigjigs to the Department for Transport, the company proposed a 'free' rail service run on 'enjoyment'. Also included was one of Bigjigs toy trains.

To the credit of Dft they responded to the proposal formally, albiet with a decline.

Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin's private secretary - Mark Reach - responded with this assessment.

'While perfect for the in-home market, wooden carriages are unlikely to meet modern crashworthiness standards for operation on the heavy rail network.'

For the price of a letter and stamp, and one wooden train Bigjigs managed to scoop front page on the BBC News website - and 3rd most shared item of the day - plus articles on just about every British newspaper site, and many more news sites and blogs.

Aside from the PR value from the jape, on a more serious side they were able to do a significant bit of branding alongsde it.

The 'free rail service built on enjoyment' piece was well reported, as was this values statement by Bigjigs MD George Poole.

"The message I have for the DfT is this: We need to put some love back into the train journey. At the minute the commuters get a pretty rough deal: increasing fares, delayed services, overcrowded carriages etc. The train used to be a great mode of transport for all to enjoy, we want/need to get back to when we used to see the train as a fun way to travel."


BBC report here.

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