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East Coast strikes Gold at Marketing Industry “Oscars”

East Coast strikes Gold at Marketing Industry “Oscars”

Train operator East Coast is celebrating winning gold at the marketing industry’s ‘Oscars’.

The company’s ‘modal shift’ campaign scooped the top prize in the agency media idea relaunch category at the Media Week Awards 2011.

Leading media marketing and research agency MPG Media Contacts worked with East Coast’s own marketing team to prepare and launch the campaign.

The inventive campaign beat several big brand names to take the gold prize, including McDonalds, Mars, Alton Towers, Lucozade and Piriton. Organisers say they received a record number of entries for the keenly-contested awards.

During the campaign, East Coast’s share of the rail versus air market on its route increased by eight per cent to 53 per cent.


More than 1,300 guests representing the UK’s marketing and media industries watched East Coast and MPG Media Contacts collect the prize in London.

East Coast Commercial and Customer Service Director Peter Williams said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win this award. The campaign has proved highly successful, and has helped us communicate the key selling points of the train, compared with the ‘plane, to many new customers.

“MPG Media Contacts proposed a highly innovative campaign that impressed us with its breadth, and when it ran, with its results. The outstanding results delivered a real breakthrough for us in a very strongly contested market.”

Together, the team set out to directly communicate the advantages of train travel over flying to those on flights or at airports in the key battleground for domestic long-distance business travel – the hotly-contested routes linking Edinburgh and Newcastle with London.

The key selling points for East Coast trains over rival ‘planes include:
• No time spent waiting at airports prior to boarding;
• City centre to centre travel by train, with no long and costly transfers to/from airports in the suburbs;
• Wider choice of available train departures compared with parallel flights;
• Ability to work throughout the train journey, using Wi-Fi and at-seat power sockets.

The award-winning campaign cleverly harnessed mobile and digital media to get these messages across – including texting mobile phones held by 82,000 frequent business flyers in the Lothians and North East England, using competing airlines’ text service data.

Advertising on Wi-Fi systems at Edinburgh and Newcastle airports invited 1.9 million air passengers to scan their flight ticket to receive a complimentary First Class East Coast train ticket – while personalised boarding cards featuring the name of each subscriber were included within the direct-mailed regional business magazine ‘The Insider’.

Taxis heading for both the regional airports featured advertisements on the inside with East Coast’s message: “Our seats go directly to the heart of London’ – and on the outside, saying: “If they look grumpy, they’ve just flown up from London.” Mobile advertising vans were also placed close to the airports, and sponsored business bulletins on local radio stations added to the train operator’s campaign.

Working with Scotland’s national newspaper The Scotsman, two journalists travelled from Edinburgh to London – one by ‘plane, the other by East Coast train – with live weblog reports from the train using its on-board Wi-Fi underlining the business advantages of this service compared with competing flights. Reports comparing both journeys appeared in print and online.

Kate Cox, head of Strategy at MPG Media Contacts, said: “We are delighted to have helped East Coast win this award. The campaign spans a huge array of communications channels, all integrated by a powerful idea – ‘Trains v Planes’ – which focused the entire agency team to think of different creative ways of bringing the idea to life, from content creation, to mobile marketing, to new ways of using press and out of home media.”