National Express promotes ‘romance of travel’ in new campaign

National Express is kicking off a TV campaign aimed at communicating the ‘romance of travel’ as it seeks to change people’s ‘outdated’ perceptions of coach travel and convince them to consider taking a coach, rather than opting for the train or car.

Video: National Express new TV ad

The TV spots, which kick off tomorrow (14 June) focus on the reasons why people take coach journeys. Created by agency Isobel, the three ads show a group of girls heading to the airport, a couple going on a weekend away and a student coming back from college to visit his family.

They also star actor David Soul, best known for his turn in TV programme Starsky and Hutch, as the coach driver. The hope is the use of a celebrity will make the ad stand out and add some humour.

Speaking to Marketing Week, National Express’ marketing director Susanna Holdsworth says the aim is to shift the brand’s positioning to make it a ‘good time brand’ associated with holidays and trips. She believes many people still have an outdated view of coach travel, so the ads will also look to showcase the product, including the fact that the coaches have WiFi, leather seats and plugs so people can charge phones or work on their laptops.

“We want to get on the consideration list for more people so that when they are looking to take a journey they consider coach. We have implemented lots of improvements over the past five years and we want to showcase that to customers as well as rolling in the reasons why people travel,” she adds.

Holdsworth says National Express does not need to boost awareness, with more than 90 per cent of the population aware of the brand. However, she admits there is a perception issue and that it needs to convince people that coaches are a “credible” option.

The TV spots will initially run in central England, with National Express planning to assess the results, including passenger revenues and social media engagement, and then roll it out nationwide if the results are positive. The TV campaign is being backed up by print ads, as well as social media and CRM activity.

Ads will also appear on the back of 50 National Express coaches and at point-of-sale in its retail location as it looks to create a consistent brand message.

National Express has had a strong start to the year, with passenger numbers up 9 per cent year on year. Holdsworth is hoping the campaign will build on that momentum.

“There are times when coach travel works and times when it doesn’t. We just want to make sure people consider us,” she adds.