Crossrail, which launches in a year's time, is "a marvel of engineering and state-of-the-art design which will fundamentally transform the lives of Londoners, businesses and visitors". It's also about to become the most valuable advertising canvas in town, as TfL revealed yesterday.
"We are seeking six exclusive partners who will work with us to launch the line, transforming how we work with leading brands to engage one of the most valuable and diverse audiences in the world."
TfL are looking to go into partnership with six commercial partners for a year-long Crossrail deal, each of whom will get one-sixth of the advertising estate, and the opportunity to focus their messages on millions of affluent passengers.
"In December 2018, the world will be watching as we embark on the launch year of Crossrail. Our vision is to begin this journey in the company of six sector-exclusive brand partners. With official designation status, one-sixth of an unbeatable advertising estate and your brand integrated with TfL’s Crossrail campaign, you will be embedded within this moment in history."
These lucky brands will get to place their logos alongside the line's roundel in campaign collateral and claim to be Launch Partners, "enjoying association and exclusivity for the transformational 12-month period". They'll be six brands with bugger all to do with Crossrail, other than they share certain key behaviours, or mutual vision, or some other weary brandspeak. But they'll be everywhere - up the escalators, on the platform doors, even on the trains - and given prominence within TfL's media spin operation for a full year. Top multinationals are already salivating at the opportunity.
When the Jubilee line extension was designed, the focus was cutting-edge architecture. With Crossrail, however, a different priority has been envisaged. We're told that these are "new stations designed with advertising in mind". Your journey through the station is being micro-managed to ensure "an integrated, clean, trusted environment, giving consumers time to absorb brand messages." Your attention is being hijacked by "premium infrastructure and full-motion capability delivering unequalled levels of engagement". Even if your head's in your phone, these are adverts it won't be possible not to look at.
To some it's marketing nirvana, "a unique opportunity that will align with this historic moment for London." To others it's visual prostitution and the depressing outcome of a permanent budget squeeze.
Catch the eye of the world by showcasing your brand to:
• A global audience who are commuting, shopping, socialising, studying and enjoying all of London’s vibrancy
• International visitors who will spend £15bn in London each year
• Influential business leaders and decision makers
• A London audience, who are otherwise light consumers of media
Obviously I'm interested. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch the diamond geezer brand in front of the world's elite, and I want in.
It's not especially expensive either. All I have to do is crowdfund £6.5m, which is less than £1 from every Londoner, which is easily achievable. The £40m TfL hopes to raise from this rights auction is less than 1% of what they collect in fares in a year, peanuts in the grand scheme of things, so I'm sure we can all muck in.
I'm excited by the cross-fertilisation synergies between my blog and the Crossrail brand. The slate grey of my blog's background is a clear match to the modal colour of the new line's roundel palette. I have already communicated the line and the transformation story to new and wider audiences, so I'm well ahead of the game there.
I embrace the opportunity to plaster my latest blogpost all over the panelled doors on Crossrail platforms. I look forward to hiring minions in fancy dress to hand out branded packs of playing cards in Crossrail ticket halls. I can't wait to see my latest Dangleway review rippling up Crossrail escalators on digital ribbons. I'm excited by the possibility of renaming Farringdon 'Diamond Junction' as part of a tie-in deal with a nearby Hatton Garden jeweller.
"This is a moment not to be missed. As an official partner you will be granted rights to state-of-the-art advertising infrastructure in newly designed, premium, trusted environments. Your partnership goes way beyond advertising, with your brand becoming fully integrated into all aspects of the new line, including PR, marketing, VIP events and digital."
As an Official Launch Partner my blog will be given regular prominence within official TfL editorial. I'm thrilled that my online portfolio will be showcased at VIP events during initial project rollout. I'll laugh at the misfortune of my sector competitors, whose promotional messages will be excluded from the entire line during the twelve month launch period. Crossrail's customer experience will be enhanced by my needy marketing strategies, and you'll have no choice but to absorb what I have written.
TfL's Commercial Development Sales Presentation includes essential audience profiles to help me select the optimum stations for my ongoing campaign. Should I target the Penthouse chic of Bond Street, the Rural vogue of Liverpool Street or the Alpha families of Canary Wharf? Is my target market the mature married couples of Paddington, the pet owners of Farringdon or the large extended families of Whitechapel? If you thought Crossrail was only a transport project, think again.
My crowdfunding initiative will launch early next year, aligned to the unveiling of TfL's virtual reality showcase for potential partners. In March I'll be taking up the offer of site tours for interested parties, keen to visit the subterranean portfolio with the Director for Commercial Development to scrutinise locational opportunities first hand. I'll submit my tender in April, as required, and expect to be announced as a successful partner in October. Please give generously.
You'll be seeing a lot more of the six winning Official Launch Partners when Crossrail launches, as trains and real estate are liberally scattered with targeted advertising collateral. Imagine facing adverts for Audi, BUPA, NatWest, Shell, Sky and Smirnoff, or whoever, on every commuter journey for an entire year. A railway triumph we thought had been hijacked by the Queen will instead be dominated by half a dozen highest bidders, unavoidably embedded in the customer experience, as the new line finally reveals its true colours.