Metro Light Rail (Metro), serving the greater Phoenix area, is one of the busiest transit systems of its kind in the country. Open only since December of 2008, the operation is a newer addition to Valley Metro and raised a series of important questions regarding the relationship between company branding and outside advertisement.
Less than a year after the system’s debut, talks of an ad policy emerged after vendors showed interest in displaying full wrap or panel advertisements on the new light rail vehicles.
“Some board members expressed serious concern over the issue, fearing large outside ads and graphics would compromise Metro Light Rail’s brand since it was so new,” says Hilary Foose, director, communication and marketing, for Valley Metro. “At the time, they were really trying to ensure its place in our community as a well-known and established mode of transportation.”
Regardless, it’s difficult to ignore the critical revenue generated from ads. Therefore, Metro compromised, according to Foose, tiptoeing into the arena of advertisements.
The agency enacted a policy, with limitations allowing only a certain number of vehicles to be fully wrapped with commercial advertising at one time. It was a balance without disturbing Metro’s image and brand. Valley Metro reserved some cars for community graphics as well.
“They made sure advertising can have its part, but only a certain part,” says Foose. “It’s indicative of the fact that we could use the opportunity to generate additional revenue that would then go toward supporting the operation that serves constituents in this community.”