TfL’s new Elizabeth Line will be a “once in a generation opportunity” to “redefine” outdoor advertising, with new stations designed with marketing in mind.
“It is redefining the city and redefining out-of-home, which is a unique opportunity for brands. It really is a once in a generation opportunity,” Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of commercial development tells Marketing Week.
Craig was speaking at an event this morning (8 February) to showcase the new line – which is 90% complete – to commercial partners ahead of the tender process. Big brands including Google and John Lewis were in attendance.
TfL is looking to partner with six brands from different sectors for the 12-month launch period, beginning in December 2018. Brands will begin bidding at £6.5m for the opportunity, which will include large-format digital, small-format digital and on-train advertising. The tender process begins on 14 February, with brands able to begin bidding five days later. TfL will announce the six partners in October.
The investment will provide a much-needed boost for TfL, which is facing a £400m budget deficit. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledge for a four-year fares freeze has hit the network’s income hard, which is particularly concerning ahead of its final Government subsidy in April – once worth £700m a year.
In 2017, TfL carried 16,000 advertisers across its network with annual advertising revenue increasing by nearly 20%, generating £40m. The Elizabeth Line year-long partnership is set to generate at least half of this. The top three sectors in 2017 were entertainment and leisure; retail stores and government; and social and political.
What TfL is expecting from brands
The Elizabeth Line includes 10 new stations that have been designed to “enhance customer experience” claims TfL. Each station will have fewer adverts but in more strategically placed areas such as digital escalator ribbons, as opposed to single adverts currently in place, and digital adverts in front of tube doors (a first for London). Craig says: “This is a state of the art area with uncluttered design, which provides a brilliant canvas for brands and organisations to work with us.
Despite the focus on digital advertising, Craig is insistent that there is a place for traditional out-of-home on the line. He says: “There’s a huge amount more we can do in terms of bespoke experiential campaigns that will rely on traditional media, as well as digital.”
Brands will also be expected to promote the launch and create creative campaigns for the Elizabeth Line. Craig explains: “We are looking for investment, of course, but what is as important, if not more, is how brands will activate the opportunity. What are the ideas they can bring? What are the resources they can bring? We are talking about something that redefines not just the city, not just the transport network, but redefines out-of-home.”
TfL has also carried out research to share with the partners to enhance targeting. “There’s a much better opportunity for us with the launch of the Elizabeth Line to help brands better target their campaigns from time of day, from days of the week to times of year.”
Despite this, Craig is optimistic about the partnerships: “TfL has a unique ability to enable brands to talk to customers in a way that is attractive and enticing. The Elizabeth Line provides an even greater opportunity for this.”