CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE - TRANSPORT FOR LONDON. Tube spots try to tug at Londoners' heart-strings

Three agency figures give their views on a campaign to get Londoners travelling.

Last weekend Transport for London unveiled a multimedia campaign to convince Londoners that the Tube isn't all bad. In fact, it aimed to persuade them to use the Tube for more than commuting.

It's a tough brief, and M&C Saatchi created a campaign trying to associate Londoners' love for their city with a love for the Tube.

Here M&C Saatchi's Matt Eastwood explains the agency's strategy, while DFGW's Dave Waters and Ogilvy's Mark Earls offer their opinions on the campaign.

DAVE WATERS - joint creative director, DFGW

I realise there's been an awful lot of criticism of London Underground in the media. I know a lot of people are pissed off. But the Tube still works very well for me. I can still, somewhat magically, walk down under the pavement in North London and in no time emerge in the West End, the airport or wherever.

It's cheap, dead quick and surely the simplest, most efficient way around the best city in the world.

So I find it odd that London Underground doesn't tell me that in its ads. After all, it is used to "Making London Simple".

The execution of the new campaign is very enjoyable, with charmingly shot, witty vignettes of people who love London. I particularly like the policeman mounting a llama. An unfortunate re-use of the "I heart NY" logo is saved at the finish with a clever end device. (The only time Tube trains get a mention).

I know what the ads are doing, of course - showing me the end benefit instead of the product. As a strategy it's appealing because it avoids any negatives. It worked very well on the brilliant BA beds commercial.

But why be apologetic and why patronise us? It's still an amazing product.

If London Underground is too embarrassed to talk up its actual benefits, it should probably spend its money on improving its product, not advertising it to the public.

I suspect the answer's in the logo. It is probably not allowed to mention the congestion charge or how much faster the Tube is than the clogged arteries above the ground. Because in reality, this is not a vehicle to get us from A to B - it's a vehicle to promote the mayor. As propaganda for Ken Livingstone in the run up to the mayoral elections, I'm sure it will work very well.

MARK EARLS - executive planning director, Ogilvy

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. So here's something nice to start with: I'm a real sucker for old-school reggae. So, I quite liked the gentle musical lilt of M&C's multicultural vignette films for Transport for London.

But I'm left somewhat perplexed by why advertising (and particularly this advertising) was seen to be the solution. Offensive it is not. Best advice in solving the client's problem? You decide.

It's an old cliche of travel advertising that there are only two briefs: grow the market and take share. "I heart London" falls fairly and squarely under travel advertising brief numero uno: there are lots of places you could visit to which TfL would be delighted to help ferry you. Which would be great if Londoners had suffered a collective loss of memory.

But I suspect the real problem facing TfL is that people choose not to use public transport for some other reasons: we think it's stuffy, overcrowded, unreliable, uncomfortable and downright unpleasant.

A few years ago, St Luke's pitched for the same brief and recommended not advertising but getting people to try something other than their car through a series of no-car days, sponsored by the motor manufacturers.

The Parisians have tried banning cars with certain licence plates on rotating days. Whether or not these are the right answers for TfL is neither here nor there. They just show more thought and concern for solving the client's problem than "I heart London" does. They are open to any solution - the best solution - not just an advertising solution.

Even then, I think we should be gentle with M&C Saatchi. Ultimately, "I heart London" reveals a problem which holds our whole communications industry back: we assume that whatever it is we've got to sell - advertising, DM, online or design - is what will solve the client's problem.

Nice tune, though.

MATT EASTWOOD - creative director, M&C Saatchi

There's no doubt this was a difficult task because the perception of the Tube is mixed at best. People have various issues with the Tube, but there is no denying that it is an important part of the fabric of London: people use it every day and it's very much a part of their lives. We wanted to focus on this positive aspect of using the Tube. We wanted to remind people of what they use it for and encourage its use for more leisure activities.

People are excited about London life and the Tube is part of that. The campaign is unashamedly passionate, because Brits are unashamedly passionate about their home. That's what we needed to leverage. So the campaign is not "You like London" it's "You love London". And, obviously, it's the Tube that delivers London to them. We made a definite decision not to feature the actual trains. In my mind, they are just a delivery mechanism. The passion isn't for getting on or off the trains or for buying tickets, but for where you can end up. The metal seemed a bit irrelevant.

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