With the arrival of Crossrail now just ten months away, TfL's commercial development arm has launched exciting new plans to maximise brand-led revenue potential.
This week saw the starting pistol fired on a tender process for commercial partners, offering brands a unique opportunity to align with the historic launch of Crossrail later this year. The campaign is based around the strapline that the new railway will 'redefine London', as TfL's fresh approach simultaneously redefines best practice in premium integrated advertising. The launch of the new line offers "an unmatched opportunity for brands to be part of a historic moment for our city", according to TfL's Head of Marketplace Engagement, Graeme Craig.
Just six partners will have complete sector exclusivity across the entire line for the inaugural 12-month period, enjoying full priority leverage in TfL's marketing and promotional activity. Every single advert you see on Crossrail in its first year will feature the brand messages of these paid-for ambassadors, and absolutely no other companies whatsoever. These will be London's Ultimate Influencers, truly Six Of The Best, and I am so going to be one of them.
I see no reason why diamond geezer should not be a trusted business partner for Crossrail's first year. Audi are welcome to the car sector, and HSBC can be the banking overlords, but I'm 110% certain I have the gritty commercial nous to be the industry-leading Launch Partner for Media and Information. I've been reporting on the development of the new line for 15 years, and my relentless promotion of the Crossrail name means I'm nothing less than always on brand.
"What we're looking for from a partner is someone who shares with us the excitement, the passion, for London and for this project. We're looking for those brands, those organisations to come to us with their thoughts as to how they can help us to activate this space." TfL Head of Embedded Commercialisation, Graeme Craig
Crossrail stations have been specially designed to embrace state-of-the-art advertising, which will be positioned only where it will be most effective and impactful, thereby maximising experiential cut-through. Escalators will be embraced by sleek digital ribbons, passageways will be uncluttered except by ultra-HD LCD screens, and platform doors will include embedded advertising panels showcasing animated brand messages.
The aim is that premium infrastructure and full-motion capability will deliver unequalled levels of engagement within an ultra-immersive environment, and I for one cannot wait to see the diamond geezer brand message absorbed by a savvy global audience.
"These stations are designed to ensure passenger wayfinding and advertising co-exist. Some architects don't want advertising messing up their design. We've embraced it. We think it's a positive part of design, adding colour and vibrancy, particularly if it's located at strategic parts of the passenger's journey". Partner at Grimshaw Architects, Neill McClements
A couple of weeks ago TfL invited all of us prospective bidders to a Showcase Event at their new offices in the Olympic Park. It was exhilarating to be in the presence of such esteemed operators as Google, Samsung, Lloyds, BT and Cadbury, but also slightly terrifying, as these are my Crossrail nemeses. The team from Burberry seemed confident they had what it takes to be Launch Partner for High End Fashion, while the Amazon crew queried whether they might be allowed to bid for more than one of the six openings, given that they have their fingers in every sector.
As well as nibbles, and the chance to meet with TfL royalty, we delegates were treated to a thrilling Virtual Reality experience depicting a fly-through of potential in-station locational opportunities. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube you can watch that very presentation here, except in 2D, and without the need for plastic goggles clamped to your face. We were all filled with surprise and delight when we saw Crossrail's streamlined concourses, scattered with inquisitive customers peering at glowing mauve rectangles, alongside totem-pole signage directing passengers to their platforms.
Just look at how minimalist the advertising estate will be, and thus how prominent each digital intervention will appear. I know that the digital screens all appear somewhat tame in the video, but that's because TfL have used muted silhouettes rather than full-colour eyeball-gouging histrionics, and in reality it'll be much more obvious. Imagine the thrill of scrolling through my blog on a high definition cross-passage screen, or being able to enjoy my video of London's Best Secret Daffodils on endless loop.
"Our partners will have a chance to shape how advertising looks and works on these new stations. They will be part of a process that will redesign London and will change how the city looks, feels and functions. There's the opportunity for those six partners to work with us on bespoke campaigns maybe at particular stations maybe at particular times of year". TfL Head of Financial Topping-up, Graeme Craig
The chance to drill down and dominate a single Crossrail station is an especially exciting aspect of the project. My plans to temporarily rename Farringdon as Diamond Garden, in partnership with a local Hatton Garden jeweller, are already at an advanced stage. I have Valentine's Day 2019 pencilled in for a Big Sparkler Giveaway, midsummer earmarked for a women's car insurance promotion, and am planning an immersive marketing tie-up with Netflix for the launch of the second series of Altered Carbon.
But what's really got me salivating is this unrivalled opportunity.
"When the Tube maps change, these six brands will have their logo on every new map." TfL Head of Commercial Partnerships Harriet McDonald
It's long been a dream of mine to force my blog onto the iconic tube map, even though it doesn't deserve to be there. And now, thanks to TfL's escalating budgetary shortcomings, my prayers have been answered. From December 2018 onwards, every time you pick up a tube map in a station, or download a graphic online, I'll be there in the corner. My brand presence will stand astride the Capital, in logo form, subliminally reminding millions to check out the latest blogpost every morning. I'm hoping to grab the pre-eminent position between Epping and Shenfield, rather than being sidelined to the back cover below the index, but will make do with disfiguring New Addington if pushed. If nothing else, I need to get myself onto this map simply so that Emirates doesn't shoehorn itself into the capital's transport mindset any more than it has already.
But I still have hurdles to overcome, the first of which is money. The minimum bid to become a Crossrail Launch Partner is £6.5m, which admittedly sounds steep, but could easily be achieved if every Londoner donated a mere £1 to my campaign. I'm convinced that this total is achievable, and will be launching my "Dig For Diamond" crowdfunding platform next month. Please give generously - even 75p will help if you can't afford the full pound.
It's in my favour that the highest bid won't always win. TfL have made it clear that financial considerations will account for only 80% of the decision, with "passion and vision for the project" counting for 15% of the score and "how much you want to alter the contract" for the remaining 5%. I'm convinced that my creative ideas, dynamically expressed, will be more than a match for whatever Vodafone, Facebook or BMW think they can cobble together.
The tendering process closes on 23 April, with submissions reviewed by TfL between April and May. But it won't be until October that the winning brands will be announced, at which point I'm certain that diamond geezer will be catapulted to global prominence as a trusted media partner. Watch out for the blog exploding all over Crossrail from December, as London's newest railway becomes all about me, me, me, because I've paid for the privilege.