The idea of "flying by train" might seem a contradiction in terms, especially given the recent performance of many UK operators. But potential ironies haven't stopped Eurostar using the concept for its new Fly Eurostar campaign, which celebrates the recent 20-minute cut in journey times to Paris and Brussels.
The outdoor-focused campaign promotes the recent opening of the first section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which allows trains to travel at up to 186 miles per hour. Jon Gittings, a director at Manning Gottlieb OMD, Euro-star's planning and buying agency, says: "This is Eurostar's biggest news since launch as it shortens journeys and makes the train even more competitive, especially for a business audience."
The creative, by TBWA\London, positions Eurostar in direct competition with airlines, focusing on business travellers who prefer to fly. The flight theme dominates the campaign and the posters use airline imagery to stress that Euro-star is a simple and convenient alternative to flight.
The media strategy has two phases. The first phase aims to leverage the "Fly Eurostar" idea by using a broad range of media. "It's about owning the rat race," Gittings says.
This first phase, with 65 outdoor sites, bought by Posterscope on Clear Channel, JCDecaux and Viacom sites, broke on 28 September. The posters, on what Gittings describes as "flagship sites", provide a focus for the first part of the strategy. "It's fairly standard for outdoor campaigns to have a couple of sites where the media and creative teams have combined to do something innovative but we have used every single panel to enhance the creative message to greatest effect," he says.
Gittings also argues that, with the special poster sites, the Euro-star media strategy goes far beyond traditional outdoor airline campaigns, which tend to focus on roadside and conventional positioning. For example, ten of the Eurostar sites are at "take-off" angles and others are built out or interestingly lit.
The first stage of the campaign also encompasses national press ads, Underground sites, liveried taxis, bus-sides and a range of sites at Waterloo station.
The second stage of the campaign, beginning on 1 November, narrows the campaign's focus from both business and leisure travellers to target the business market specifically.
"Aggressive" activity in business hubs will see poster sites and Underground ads in London's Square Mile and Canary Wharf. Ads will also appear on ambient media, such as coffee cup sleeves, and in The Economist and The Big City magazine as well as the national newspapers. The Daily Telegraph's business-themed cartoon Alex will feature in a ten-day campaign targeting the "more traditional business people who read this paper", Gittings says.
Adrail and Adrail supersign sites will appear on routes to the airports.
The campaign will also target areas identified as "switching zones", where potential Eurostar travellers live.
From 20 October, a "Fly Euro-star Free" promotion allows customers to buy one business ticket and get two leisure tickets free. The offer will be communicated in outdoor and press ads and also online in a campaign developed by Proximity. For the launch, 40 "Fly Eurostar Free" taxis, with stewardesses, will provide free travel around London's business areas.
Nick Mercer, Eurostar's commercial director, claims the campaign is one of the largest outdoor campaigns London has seen. If it diverts business travellers from the skies, it will be money well spent.
Media: Outdoor, national and business press, online, ambient and sales
Agencies: TBWA\London, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Proximity London,
Media idea: Reflect Eurostar's position as a direct competitor with the