Greyhound CanadaHow was one of the most traditional, valuable, and recognizable brands in the world able to triple its revenue growth goals in a single year, by following some untraditional advice?
National Vice President of Marketing presented the open-ended challenge of increasing Greyhound Canada’s revenues by three percent by the end of the year to achieve the company’s annual growth goals. How this was to be strategically or creatively accomplished, on a very modest national marketing budget of approximately $1M, was the task with which Commotion was charged.
Understanding that with limited resources, Greyhound could not appeal to all markets across the country, the decision was made to achieve the most growth that only the YOUTH MARKET would be specifically targeted — as seniors, single mothers, and other demographics were already informed about Greyhound and committed to the product. Youth, on the other hand, could be encouraged to try the bus, if they had not already done so, and this would grow the market for the future.
The problem was a perceptual one. Commotion was very candid with Greyhound that the primary reason youth didn’t take the bus was because it was, simply put, “un-cool.” They would rather find any other option, and the bus was the last resort.
Commotion set about re-positioning and re-freshing how Greyhound — a long standing, traditional, near monopoly of a company — could communicate with and appeal to a younger audience. The tagline of the day “Leave the Driving to Us” (which was disempowering to younger audiences) was replaced with the mantra “You’re Going Places. Go Greyhound.” This achieved the dual meaning of you are literally going places (of which Greyhound has thousands of destinations) and “you’re going places” as in life, future, potential.
This simple re-positioning allowed Greyhound to get away from a hard sell to youth, and simply say “we know you are going places in life, and you don’t necessarily always have the bus (i.e. we know the bus isn’t your identity) — but it’s cheap, convenient, and will get you where you need to go for now.”
Commotion focused exclusively on the post-secondary market of youth — with a special emphasis on the Ontario market. With its density of schools, towns, and transportation needs, it could use established channels of communication, such as the less expensive college newspapers, to regularly advertise fares relevant from the city or university they were attending — promoting visiting their parents, check out rock shows, or enjoy spring break. Intermittently, young “street teams” would hit campus Student Union Food Courts and hand out Greyhound pamphlets and offers.
Fresh, hip, stylish images of student-age youth were featuring in ads and posters with a profile of what they wanted to be in life — so youth could see themselves and identify with the stories.
“Student Fares” and — most importantly — “Companion Fares” were promoted, encouraging students to bring a friend for free (and hence split the single fare between them). Students could travel together, and it introduced the bus to a whole other possible new customer.
Selected mass media campaigns included a clever series of three 30-second commercials promoting the companion fare broadcast on Much Music. Billboard and in-transit ads were strategically aimed at commuters without cars already taking public transportation.
The goal was to turn a “stodgy, rather un-glamorous” product into something fresh, funny, appealing, and mobilize an audience that is notoriously skeptical of advertising.
Commotion delivered triple Greyhound Canada’s national revenue growth goals at almost 9% in a single year and gave one of North America’s most recognizable brands a fresh new position within the youth market.
The strategy not only allowed Greyhound to exceed the sales benchmarks it was projecting, but infiltrated and inspired all internal departments.
The positioning strategy and resulting creative campaign (“You’re Going Places. Go Greyhound”) was integrated into HR, inspired employee reward programs, inspired new products and services, and was adopted in the U.S. market.
Commotion planned and managed the marketing account for two years as Agency of Record.
It won Best Commercial at the Calgary’s Ad Rodeo Advertising Industry Awards.
”Gracie” the greyhound, a rescued racetrack dog, became a “spokesdog” in photoshoots and was featured on the nationally broadcast show “Dogs with Jobs.”
“Over the course of the past eight years, it has been my pleasure to work with this company on a
myriad of projects, culminating in developing and executing the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 Brand
Campaigns, which have been ethical, on budget, and results-driven.”
“They have been able to come to our organization with work that challenged our collective
mindsets, and have instilled a vision that has become a North American mantra.”
“When posed the question — ‘what will you do to produce a 3% revenue growth?’ – Kirsten and
Devon came back to our company with a strategic direction, a creative platform, and a workback
sheet that was without question the best thing for our organization.”
“They took on a major task, and accomplished it… almost tripling our projections, delivering 8%,
and instilling not only a change in direction, but also a direction for our future.”
“…we achieved 130% of our revenue projections in the fiscal years 2002-2004.”
“They made us look at our platform of being ‘price driven’ and gave us a forum to connect with
“They managed a national budget of just over 1.3 million dollars, but were responsible for a brand
whose equity is in the hundreds of millions. Greyhound is listed in the Top 10 most recognizable
brands in North America and it is imperative to our organization that the integrity of our brand
is held in the highest regard.”
“They have been able to come to our company with recommendations that have saved our
organization thousands of dollars and they have built a very vocal support system within our
– Cheryl Heilman
Director of National Marketing
Greyhound Canada Transportation Corp.
Greyhound Canada: “Dancin’ Dave” (1 x :30)
Greyhound Canada: “Sonny & Gramps” (1 x :30sec)