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London 2012 Travel Demand Management: 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

This campaign encouraged people to modify travel plans during the 2012 Olympics, preventing the need for increased infrastructure investment and delivering an estimated ratio of success achieved of 550:1.


Q1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?

CM: “Implementing a Travel Demand Management (TDM) campaign was a requirement for any bid to host the Games – so we didn’t decide to run the campaign - we couldn't have won the bid without one. But I would like to think we would have proposed one anyway.”

RS: “Without any activity, the transport system would have been overwhelmed, the Games would have been a disaster and London would have literally ground to a halt.” 

Q2. How did you feel about the original brief?

RS: “The brief was challenging on so many levels, but perhaps the most daunting challenge was that it simply had to work, and work on day one.  We would not get the chance to ‘re-launch’ London 2012!”

CM: “The scale and national importance of the task was fairly daunting.  It had never been done before, there was no scope for piloting, no ‘beta’ and just one shot at getting it right. And it was a pretty tight budget, all things considered.”

Q3. How hard was it to get the campaign signed off?

CM: “Everybody saw the case for a campaign. The key task was to get the buy-in from a huge range of stakeholders whilst retaining a strong and motivating programme. The originality and flexibility of the creative helped a lot in that respect.”

RS: “A great deal of work went into understanding the exact need, the desired behaviour changes and the most appropriate propositions to trigger them.  This all helped define the campaign.”

Q4. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

RS: “We had metrics that indicated before day one that we were likely to be successful.  However, we could only know for sure the day the Olympics began.  There was quite a lot at stake on that day.”

CM: “In the first few days of the Games as the visitor numbers ramped up we began to see the shifts in the travel behaviour of the London travellers that we needed to make everything work smoothly. People were changing their times and methods of travel and working differently.”

Q5. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

CM: “Getting across the depth, scale and detail of everything that we did. The advertising was quite visible but it was just one aspect of a hugely complex integrated campaign; CRM, door drops, social media, a totally new website, stakeholder engagement programmes, events, briefing, the list goes on.”

RS: “Word count (in terms of writing the Effectiveness Awards case study). The scope of the campaign and the sheer number and complexity of behavioural effects made describing it all within the word limit a huge editing challenge.”

Q6. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

CM: “Nothing compares. There had obviously been previous Games – and the ones in Atlanta showed the risks of not getting the transport right – with athletes missing events.

“Others had social and political structures which made travel management easier but London was always going to be a unique challenge in terms of scale, openness and media attention.”

RS: “London had never done anything like this. (Well, not for 64 years).

“The only ‘previous’ campaigns are those from other Olympic cities.  These of course are very different, because of the geographical, social and political differences between them.

“Beijing is an interesting example of a regime using certain measures and policies that would be deemed too ‘costly’ politically in this country!!”

Q7. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

CM: “Planning, Planning, Planning. And people, people, people. We planned as much as we could with all the rigour and discipline we could and with as much focus as possible on what we were trying to achieve. But as always it comes down to having great people who rose to all the challenges that only this type of project can present.”

RS: “The importance of rigorously and precisely defining the response you want your campaign to generate.  This is easily more important than the proposition, which is after all, just a means of achieving that response.”

Q8. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

RS: “It got quite hairy about two weeks out from the Games.  The jeopardy of ‘We’ve only got one shot at this’ was palpable.”

CM: “The low point was probably the early reporting of ‘Ghost Town’ London – the media notion that we had scared everybody away, when we had simply been effective.

“Fortunately, it became clear very quickly that more people were travelling than ever but that they were just varying their patterns. In the end, the Games went on to be a great success and a great boost to London’s economy in the longer term.

“The high points came much later after the Games when we realised how much the strong performance of TfL had done for our corporate reputation and standing. It was a pleasant change to have people spontaneously thanking you for a great performance.”

Q9. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again?

CM: “Not much. We might have prepared for success a bit more. And we might have changed some of the media choices – we were very print and posters biased.”

RS: “We probably won’t be doing this again in any of our lifetimes.

“If, hypothetically, we did, I wouldn’t change the campaign structure.  I might choose a different visual style, but that’s more a matter of personal preference.”

Q10. If you could have worked on one IPA award-winning campaign over the years which would it be, and why?

RS: “Police Recruitment - ‘Could You?’ (Silver, 2002). Oh, wait a minute. I did work on that one!”

CM: “I began my career in advertising in the 1980s. The IPA Effectiveness Awards case study books were part of what got me in to it and I read many of the editions in those years from cover to cover.

“So I am not going to pick a campaign but a year – 1984, which included such classics as Foster’s and Hofmeister lagers, Pot Noodles, Kleenex – and canned salmon.”

Last updated 06/10/2014

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