A Transit Ad That Puts Car Commercials to Shame

This new ad from Västtrafik, Sweden’s second-largest public transportation company, has all the well-worn cliches of a good car commercial: the baritone narrator, the stunning landscapes, the empty roads. What’s different about this ad is that what it’s selling will help preserve that natural scenery, rather than pave and pollute it.

If only public transit in the United States had the same marketing bucks behind it that car companies do, maybe people wouldn’t be spending $42,000 — not much less than the median American household income — on a used GMC Sierra.

Which is not to say that there aren’t any good transit commercials stateside. This won’t likely be dominating the airwaves during the big game, but it’s another good spin on the car ad:

  • Ezra Horne

    That’s a really great ad with a delightful reveal. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    That’s my favorite bus! My goodness that is the nerdiest thing I’ve said today. They came into London shortly after the congestion zone started, and they were so easy to board (unfortunately a couple caught fire, but hopefully they fixed that!)

  • Timothy Rood

    Great ad. Why are the voiceover and titles in English, though?

  • The environmental angle for walking, cycling and public transport is only of limited interest.

    Government bodies need to have environmental goals, but for marketing have to translate this in a way that is emotionally appealing, but honest. And not always so explicit! Don’t insult the intelligence of potential users!

    Here are some of my favourites:
    A surprise for a bus driver with an integration/multi-kulti angle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgOyTNtsWyY
    (Alluding to) the advantages for urban life when high capacity transportation is put underground: http://youtu.be/4co_oV0BoPc
    The social interaction only possible on public transportation: http://youtu.be/axDTPn-3C_o

  • Eric West

    Here is a video we did at our agency to promote the use of public transit.


  • Bob Trees

    Västtrafik nailed everything on this ad! What I liked most about it was showing that the roads are empty, just like ALL the car commercials.

    Does anyone ever pay attention how many car commercial there are on prime time broadcasting? I even see car commercials on PBS broadcasts! OK they aren’t as dumb as the ones on major networks, but still.

  • Probably because this is a advertising style that is very common in the US. It perhaps wouldn’t make sense in swedish. That’s only my guess though.

  • M.

    The real complaint is why our relatively piddly taxes go for destruction (warfare) while other countries use theirs to build infrastructure of every type.

  • Anonymous

    The US military basically subsidizes the rest of the world. We’re the one with the fleets of ships, air bases full of F-22s, and army bases of troops patrolling the world, not them. European countries have drastically reduce their military budget because they don’t need to field much.

  • Aron

    Because of dramatism. Think of American TV dramas, movie trailers, etc that use a low american voice. It would sound less dramatic and weirder in Swedish, because TV is in English (with subs) so they’re used to it.


Stand Clear of the Doors — It’s Time for a Big Mac!

How much exposure to advertising should fare-paying transit users be expected to tolerate? Is a relatively minor fiscal benefit worth slapping ads on every bus, bus stop, subway platform and train car? Where does it end? These questions are on the mind of Ben Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas, in light of an Atlantic Cities […]

Criticism Compels Uber to Pull Ad About Giving Up on the Subway

What do modern ride-hailing services mean for the future of transit? Serious observers think companies like Uber may help complement or substitute for bus service in spread out areas that aren’t well-suited for fixed-route transit. And ride-hailing may help transit agencies provide paratransit services. But one thing that any technology based on space-hogging cars can’t do is replace high-capacity city transit systems. A recent Uber ad suggested otherwise, […]

Getting Young People Back Into Cars Is Auto Industry Job #1

While the choked parking lots at many suburban high schools might mislead you, young people today are less interested in driving and owning cars than their counterparts in previous generations. This is happy news for environmentalists and complete streets advocates, who see fewer vehicles on the road as key to a healthier, wealthier society. For […]
The Garnett MARTA station in downtown Atlanta, surrounded by parking

A Fixation on Parking Threatens Transit Progress in Atlanta

Darin Givens is frustrated with how Atlanta is planning for the future. “We don’t feel like the city is building transit that fits needs, or places that fit transit,” says the founder of local advocacy site Thread ATL. “You see nodes of density nowhere near transit, located nowhere near a MARTA station or a regular MARTA bus. We’re not matching development and transit.”