I saw this ad the other day, and it’s pure genius. I know, this looks boring, but it’s one of the most functional, impactful uses of display advertising I’ve seen in a long time. A bit of context here, this was on a GO Train, a network of intercity trains in Canada. It covers the constellation of smaller cities and suburbs up to about 100 miles outside of Toronto. It’s used by over 250,000 people daily, and it has a fairly young demographic overall since it covers a lot of college towns.
This ad is really strong because not only does it hit two big pain points(people wish they had more spending power/public transport is the worst) it hits them RIGHT as they get in the doors. They step into this train, mad that they have to ride to work with a hundred other people, mad that they spent a hundred god damn dollars on the monthly pass, and here comes AMEX with the fix. Use our card and we literally give you a rebate on your transit pass, and think of all the traveling you’ll do, here are some pictures to help you dream and escape during your commute.
But it goes much deeper than that. The incentive plan is very well designed, hits pain points of its customer base, but the best part is how it’s branded. This is not a high-end card, it’s as entry-level as it gets for AMEX. Yet, they gave it a classy dark blue on blue color scheme, making it look like the elusive black cards that rappers and celebrities talk about. Affordable luxury has always been one of the best but hardest to achieve branding, and this is by far one of the best applications I’ve seen. Owning this card becomes a sort of status symbol, consumers want to own it despite what it actually provides.
The Search | Cobalt Card is perhaps my favorite thing on the ad. It allows for actual tracking of the ad’s effect AND it helps AMEX lock in that keyword from an SEO standpoint. It also helps keep the ad light on text and provides a simple call to action for the consumer. This ad is positioned right before the seats, so the chances that the person seeing this will just whip out their phone and search is actually fairly high.
Reaching simplicity like this is much harder than most people understand. Until you have to make an ad for your business, you never realize how little time and space you have to provide a lasting impact on an ad. Like everything else, this comes down to a strong content strategy. It’s about knowing who your clientele is, what they worry about, what they wish they had. Tap into these things and nothing can stop you.