TFL set to open up its tube stations to further brands for renaming

Having temporarily renamed Canada Water station to Buxton Water to celebrate its sponsorship of the London Marathon at the weekend, TfL has revealed it will open up all its stations to potential brand takeovers as part of its plans to generate £3.45bn in non-fare revenue over the next decade.

The signage at Canada Water station was switched over to the water brand for just a 24-hour period, and the capital’s transport network says it will only allow brands to rename stations for up to 48 hours.

Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of Commercial Development told Marketing Week: “Over the last two years we’ve spoken to plenty of brands, from film studios to food makers, about renaming stations, but we haven’t gone through with it as the opportunities, not just financially, haven’t made sense.

Going forward, Buxton won’t be the last brand we work with on this but brands will have to fulfil rigid criteria to qualify, which is based around audience relevance and whether renaming a tube stop actually ties in with a significant event in the area.”

As part of its drive to up non-ticket revenues, in February TfL announced a £43.75m seven-year partnership with Santander to refresh London’s Cycle Hire scheme through Santander Cycles, while it also made the first ever sponsor of its “Baby on Board” badges for pregnant commuters in January.

Its Emirates Air Line, meanwhile, allows Londoners to experience the city’s skyline on the capital’s only cable car.

There is also click and collect services set up at 43 TfL locations, offering consumers the option to pick up their weekly shop from the likes of Asda and Waitrose on the commute home from work. TfL is aiming to spread the service to all 61 of its train station locations that have car parks.

“With 4.5 million daily journeys, I think Central London tube stations are of big interest to brands and we must feed into that more cleverly than in the past,” adds Craig.

He explains: “TfL makes more from our network than any other transport operator in the world and at the moment all non-fare activity equates to 2.5% of overall revenue of income. We want that to grow to 5% within five to ten years.”

One of the ways TfL will achieve this growth, he says, will be through adding more pop-up shops and digital screens within its stations. It will also explore adding neighbouring crèches and post offices in order to make commuting synonymous with crucial daily tasks.

“There are fundamentally different people at Oxford Circus at 9am in the morning to 9pm on a Friday, so we need advertising that is better connected to reflecting who is using a station at a particular time,” added Craig.

“We recently connected Crosstown Donuts at Picadilly Circus station for a two week trial,  so whenever they didn’t have a shop queue, we advertised their latest offers on the screens to drive consumer traffic. It resulted in a 150 per cent uplift in their sales and showed us an innovative way of adding value to our retail locations.”

Exterion Media currently handles advertising within TfL’s network and Craig admits TfL is starting procurement to find a new partner, with  the deal set to run out in September 2016.

He concludes: “We need a long-term commercial media partnership that will bring together sponsorship, experimental marketing and advertising by working with brands at our fantastic locations and enhancing the consumer experience.

If you go to South Kensington tube, you wouldn’t know it had the best museums in the world around the corner. At TfL we want to work with brands to make every station a unique space.”