Each year, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) participates in the “National Dump the Pump Day” to emphasize the various environmental and financial benefits of public transit. The annual campaign aims to encourage residents to forgo their vehicles and make use of public transportation. As a result of their print and billboard marketing campaigns in 2007, the agency achieved a more than four percent rise in trolley and bus ridership.
In 2008, MTS began searching for ways to reach a broader audience to boost ridership. In an effort to reach that goal, the agency teamed with a San Diego-based full service, multimedia production company, Groovy Like A Movie, to create a 30-second “Dump the Pump” video for commercial airing.
“We wanted to take advantage of the recent sudden rise in gasoline prices and speak to a larger percentage of San Diegans about using our mass transit services,” explained Rob Schupp, director, marketing and communications for MTS.
The production team, responsible for all aspects of the commercial from start to finish, including developing storyboards, writing scripts and casting, devised a fun and humorous commercial where a middle-aged man declares his apparent long-standing love affair with a gas pump during dinner at a restaurant; akin to a boyfriend-girlfriend break up.
With fuel prices soaring, creating a commercial to increase MTS’ ridership could not have come at a better time. When the video first aired last year, gas prices averaged $4.53 per gallon and the amusing commercial reminded viewers that less expensive, alternative modes of transportation were readily available. The positive impacts of MTS’ “Dump the Pump” video became visibly noticeable.
A month after the commercial began airing on cable outlets, including CNN, the Comedy Channel and local NBC affiliate that sponsors its Gasoline Price Watch segment, ridership was up more than 15 percent. Shell-branded gas stations included the commercial on their “Pump-top” televisions to increase awareness. MTS also made the video available on YouTube. The advertisement generated many positive comments from the public, and was a contributing factor to the agency’s record-setting month.