Templar Downie is overseeing a major communications campaign for South West Trains which ran from January to May 2004. The campaign flags up major improvements in the pipeline, and apologises for any inconvenience their implementation might cause in the short term.
South Central has plans to replace 75 percent of its outdated rolling stock with new trains by December 2004. At the same time, the company is refurbishing the depots it
inherited from Connex. It is the first time these have been improved in over fifty years.
The operator recognises that this ambitious plan will not be without consequences and is aware of the importance of keeping its customers informed. By doing so with humour, they hope to keep customer frustration to a minimum.
Big Bear was hard to ignore. Posters and banners carrying the droll character appeared at most of the 161 stations served by the operator. A regional newspapers
campaign, with press advertising also by Templar Downie, carried the message to a wider audience.
More in-depth information was communicated through a series of booklets and exhibitions. Temporary displays were created for the concourse at Victoria and London Bridge and a semi-permanent exhibition was developed
for Brighton. Smaller nomadic exhibitions were shared by some of the 161 stations on South Central’s routes.
To keep the twelve-week campaign fresh, Templar Downie devised seven themes that were introduced at regular intervals. The first of these focused on punctuality,
while others dealt with issues such as maintenance and cleanliness. New posters, banners and booklets supported each theme.
Commenting on the communications campaign, Richard Carlisle of Templar Downie says, “Without doubt, South Central is planning major improvements to the network
but there is the danger that customers will only see the downside: the disruption and delays. This forthright campaign warned of the problems before they arose and spelled out the ultimate benefits. It was a plea for patience and understanding which we were confident the public would appreciate.”