ADVALUE: VIEWPOINT

George Marcall Group sales and marketing director Airtours The advent of one of the greatest technological feats this century is worth applauding.

George Marcall

Group sales and marketing director Airtours

The advent of one of the greatest technological feats this century is worth applauding. However, I doubt if anyone could have foreseen the futuristic approach to advertising taken by Eurostar.

In the past, one could not but adore the comfort and style of British Rail’s “Relax” campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi with its sepia tones, but does the product deliver and meet the customer’s expecta tions? I think not.

Compared with BR, Eurostar has been seen to work and function extremely well (notwith standing the French rail strike) and will be a normal feature for business and leisure travellers in the future.

Reviewing the campaign I must have missed the message behind the TV advertising. The surreal approach is weird – although unusual and futuristic, the overall effect, in my opinion, is cold and impersonal. No doubt the horror movie-style sound track depicts speed and efficiency, and certainly creates mystery and suspense, but thoughts of danger and risk also spring to mind.

The 60-second ad is certainly different and employs all the latest creative computer effects, but where is the memorable moment? What is it? From my perspective the TV campaign doesn’t pass muster. I will certainly be a consumer of this product but the campaign, including the bland press and posters highlighting the benefits of price (a key objective in the “more for less” decade of the Nineties) would not encourage me to purchase.

As I said, Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel is one of the amazing achievements of the 20th century and I am convinced this advertising initiative will win awards in some quarters, even if it is somewhat over-indulgent. The trains will increase their frequency and the consumers will flock to experience the speed and the directness of the connections to Europe.

But if, as I believe, the objective is to recruit passengers for Eurostar sooner and with more consistency, I am not convinced this campaign will assist.

I still feel more comfortable and warm with good old British Rail, even if it does take a little longer to get there.

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