Security and Safety

N.Y. MTA's re-launched public safety campaign features rider stories

Posted on March 21, 2016

Screenshot via N.Y. MTA public safety campaign video.
Screenshot via N.Y. MTA public safety campaign video.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today re-launched its long-running “If you see something, say something” public safety campaign by incorporating real stories from real New Yorkers who have reported suspicious packages or activities.

An advertising campaign that launches today adds a new slogan for the first time, “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe,” and features MTA customers who describe the scenarios they experienced that prompted them to report suspicious packages or activities.

“One day I was riding the M15 bus. A fellow got off the bus and left this weird package. It kind of smelled like gasoline,” says a rider named Cathy. “As someone who was downtown during 9/11, I felt a little nervous about it. We spoke to the driver. He came. He checked it out.”

“One afternoon about 2 p.m. I was getting off a train and noticed a large piece of luggage in a train station,” says a C train rider named Francine. “After everyone exited the train, the luggage was still sitting there. So I thought, I’m just going to leave. And then I noticed people, even with children, walking to the train station, and I didn’t feel right about it.”

“I’m on the Metro-North train, just my normal commute coming into the city, and the person across from me had left their bag behind,” says a Metro-North rider named John. “I thought maybe the person had went to the restroom or something, but they didn’t come back and we had already gone four stops. I would want somebody else, if it wasn’t me, to do that.”

In describing the new ad campaign, MTA Chairman/CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said: “This is the most significant change to our public safety messaging since we first launched the “If you see something, say something” campaign in the aftermath of 9/11. Our goals with the new campaign are to show our customers how easy it is to report a suspicious package or activity, and remind them that they have a crucial role to play in keeping New York safe.”

The videos focus attention not just on customers who report suspicious activities or packages, but also on those whose job it is to respond to those reports. A video spot shows MTA Police Officer David Chin and his canine partner, Bishop. “When someone reports something to us we will scan the area as we approach and he’ll tell me if there’s something that will hurt me inside that item,” Officer Chin says. “I love having a job that can make a difference in New York, and to be able to work with Bishop is actually a bonus.”

The videos — a 15-second, 30-second clip and a long-form video — will run online, on mobile devices, and via Facebook, and will target residents of New York City and the surrounding counties served by the MTA. They will be complemented by an advertising campaign on MTA trains, stations and buses with a headline that reads: “New Yorkers Keep New York Safe.” The print campaign uses images of MTA customers who have seen something and said something. Underneath a portrait photograph of each person is their name and the tag line: “Looking out for NYC.”

In the videos, MTA customers also offer some thoughts about why they took action, and how it made them feel.

“I felt good that I was able to help the city stay safe,” says a 6 train rider named Oscar.

“If you see something, you have to take it seriously. You have to say something,” says Gregg, an LIRR rider. “It’s part of what we owe each other as New Yorkers.”

“We are all living in this great city of ours,” says an MTA customer named Jo. “And one of the ways that we help make it a great city is to be a little bit responsible not just for ourselves but for our neighbors, and we’re all neighbors.”

The advertising spots were produced for the MTA by Pulsar|Arcade Advertising, which interviewed more than 70 people for the spots.

Customers are encouraged to use the hashtag #KeepNYSafe in social media posts.

The MTA owns the trademark to the phrase “If you see something, say something,” which was conceived of by the advertising agency Korey Kay & Partners for the MTA in 2002. The MTA has licensed the phrase to more than 130 domestic and international transportation providers and government agencies for use in their own public safety campaigns.

The campaign is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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