Advertising on the CTA is a bit of a double-edged sword: the buses, rails and stations are so heavily adorned with posters and banners, making it tough for any business to stand out. At the same time, the right message can make an impression on millions.
But Radisson Blu Hotel has launched a remarkable campaign that recently hit the CTA's Clark/Lake station in advance of the hotel's opening in Aqua Tower on Tuesday. Typically, hotel advertising can be a bore: fluffier pillows, taller buildings, and stock photos of people enjoying themselves. These aren't bad ideas -- they communicate the guest experience. But, if it doesn't stick out, it won't be memorable.
So what sets Radisson Blu apart?
It's campaign is clean and uncomplicated, with four major headline words at most. All visuals are toned in a striking shade of royal blue, making it easy to spot the other ads. The background texture that appears to be waves is actually a close-up of the building. Using a picture of the actual building, water-themed Aqua Tower, to make blue waves is not a coincidence -- it's clever. Radisson Blu hotels are not always water-themed, but for Lake Michigan and the wavy building it was a smart opportunity to add more meaning to the word Blu.
Branding isn't completely about the visual idea, however. It's also the when and where of a brand experience. Out-of-towners visiting Chicago for likely don't have a car and are using CTA. They're likely to try a different hotel next time they visit Chicago. Also, the campaign is placed on three levels of Clark/Lake's Blue Line, strengthening the brand's blue identity. Again: smart.
According to CTA's website, 1.64 million people ride CTA on an average business day. Whether a hotel or a product, transit is a great marketing platform. However, making it easy to remember, with clarity and a remarkable idea, can make or break a successful advertising investment.
Elliott Beazley is a graphic designer/web developer from Atlanta, Georgia who goes by the alias "ebeaz." He works at Upshift. If there's time, he also takes on freelance marketing and design projects. Elliott is a graduate of the School of Art Institute of Chicago's visual communication program, where he was also an art director for the school newspaper, F Newsmagazine. In first grade, when asked to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wrote "deziner."