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CRL marketing fail?

Posters have recently popped up on trains and about town advertising City Rail Link information days. I can’t find the actual poster online, but the image below is front and centre on these public service announcements:

 

There are a couple of things going wrong here, and I have to ask how AT could release such an image when they should be marketing the CRL in a positive light.

I have a couple of questions. Why would AT release an image in public that included:

  • A single tiny tram down the far end of the platform. Not a pair of our new extra long electric commuter trains filling the station up, one little tram. A tram FFS! This is no doubt going to confuse some people about what vehicles would actually run in the tunnel (“oh, they’ve gone back to that old light rail plan again I see”), leading to questions of why trams need a multi billion dollar tunnel to make their way down Albert St. It also suggests that the station is being built far too big for what it needs to support. This picture shows a wasteful extravagance, not an efficient piece of critical transport infrastructure.
  • A station with a few ghostly passengers in it, and a street above with a scattering of pedestrians and more than a few cars.  Is this the empty lifeless CBD that demands an underground railway, or is this ghostown the result of station construction perhaps? Why are we building this tunnel in the first place? He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
  • A grey and lifeless tint to the city. Sure overcast skies have little to do with rail stations, but it makes it all look quite dreary. Shouldn’t we be getting the public excited and enthusiastic instead?
  • A station that appears to have only one track. I realise that is just a combination of the perspective and the lack of a train on the other side, but it still looks like a single track station.
  • Buildings with for lease signs all over them. Ok this is a little hard to see, but it goes completely against the value of the CRL. If that station is sitting under the CBD there bloody well shouldn’t be any empty buildings right next door. They missed a trick here by not photoshopping a “LEASED” banner across the top of that signage.
  • A cityscape with a roadworks sign in it. Yes the CRL will cause plenty of roadworks and disruption. No we don’t want to advertise the fact!

My only conclusion is that no one is really thinking about image and marketing at all. Sure this render probably came from the architects doing the station interior, but it’s pretty slack to just slap it up in the public domain without any thought or improvement.  Maybe I’m being too harsh here, but I think they really need to shape up on how the CRL is presented to the public if we ever want it to get good support.

36 comments to CRL marketing fail?

  • I would be laughing if I was not crying after looking at that picture Nick.

    No you are not being too hard at all in regards to that poster. The grey outside overtone really makes the place look like something out of a dystopia class movie rather than using the bright blues that would of been in the most classic of Auckland summer we have had in years. As for the people – heck it more looks like Te Mahia station than what would be the busiest rail station in Auckland . Oh and that tram looks like it is either going to run into the platform or has terminated at Aotea Station.

    Are Nick and I having a whinge about this picture – yes we are. PR and Political Marketing 101 demands that you present an image that has major first impressions correctly unless you want the project to suffer forever more. The CBD might be drab – but the point is not to emphasis that fact…

  • Make It Go

    I have worked in marketing for the last 20 years. This poster has all the hallmarks of a graphic design-only approach. It is unlikely thus that any marketing / communications professionals were involved in the producing of this work.

    • Paul in Sydney

      Dont go blaming the Graphic designer for, most likely a poor brief and that horrible supplied image, it was probably the marketing professional that briefed and supplied

      Back on topic, it really is a horrible image!

    • James

      You hold your marketing compadres in too high esteem. I have seen plenty of times when seasoned marketers have completely missed the mark on directing a studio (and have been proud of themselves for the terrible outcome, also failing to see it).

      I agree with Paul in Sydney. A graphic designer would have never have tackled this on their own without some sort of terribly explained brief and poor communication from a department who operated on their own and didn’t have final sign off.

    • Steve D

      People in every profession make gigantic embarrassing screw-ups all the time. Can’t we all just get along?

      If nothing else, if we make too much noise Gigantic Torso Suit Man will crush us all! And then the Ominous Shadow People will eat our souls.

  • Matt there is no chance this image was generated as part of any Architectural work on the station; there is no sign of any kind of design beyond the most plodding and unimaginative post and beam structure. And it is definitely a step back from the earlier interior image of this station. Just looks like the work of an underfunded and non- visual comms dept with input from engineers… sigh

    No attempt to imagine the place as an experience; it fails to either describe or evoke. As you point out it is too inaccurate to achieve the former, and too distant for the later.

  • Waspman

    Forget marketing and consider reality, the CRL has to be the most expensive solution to overcome the bottle neck and capacity problems from the short sighted planning that was/is Britomart. For the amount of money it will consume there will be very little extra catchment and very little bang for the buck. And at the end of it the vast majority of the network will still be on the freight lines that have existed in Auckland since time in memorial whilst Auckland continues to spread. Its a nice idea but not with our current road obsessed government.

    Alternative solution;

    Run above ground tracks that deviate in Quay Park to somewhere near Queens Wharf as an additional terminus to feed, say, the Southern & Eastern lines. This will almost certainly be expandable, be very proximate to Britomart, ferries and buses and leave Britomart to serve Western lines, Manukau and Onehunga. Then use the money saved to establish new lines such as a loop taking in Pakuranga, back around to Manukau or complete the Onehunga to Avondale line that was proposed nearly 100 years ago. Maybe even the airport link. This surely has to be of far more future value than two or three stops under the Auckland CBD!

    • Dave Howick

      yes – you would think the airport loop would be a priority given that land costs will increase significantly in the next few years. Surely if the plan is to run trams up Queen St anyway one option would be to use train-tram rolling stock like in Europe which does not require a change in vehicles at Britomart, ie a continuous loop from the eastern line for example on street at a quarter of the cost, leaving money for a southern/Avondale loop to create a more robust network.

      • The land is already owned by NZTA (they are planning to use the motorway corridor), so no risk of land cost increases. A tram train on the Eastern would still require a change of vehicle for most passengers (those on the Southern, Western and Onehunga lines). You might as well just build a street level regular tram and have everyone transfer. Not that that would do very much, the Queen St tram idea is fort a replacement for the city link bus, not the core of a regionwide rapid transit network! To do the same as the CRL such a tram-train line would need approximately 2 trams a minute in each direction, if they are similar vehicles to those used in Karlsruhe. No way Queen St could handle that, nor could the end stations handle the transfers.

        • Dave Howick

          Fair enough- was more of a short/medium term suggestion given the delays with CRL funding. It does look like even the Karlsruhe model has its limits to overground capacity. Saw this in another comment but seems to support what you are saying.

          http://www.diekombiloesung.de/fileadmin/user_upload/kombiloesung/PDF/Infoflyer-eng-105×210.pdf

        • Brendan

          Why would a tram up Queen St be better than the City Link bus? It seems like the City Link Bus has a lot more flexibility for when events such as the World Cup Triathlon Series are on.

          • Two reasons I can see on the transport side. You would have low floor modern trams with multiple double doors per side and platform style stops. That means the high turnover of passengers that you get on a city circulator could be easily accommodated, unlike with the current bus which is a daily balls up. Longer term it sets up for extension to the likes of Dominion Rd.

            But mostly I’d support it just so Queen St could be pedestrianised into a really pleasant environment, the outcome you’d get with a bus mall wouldn’t be quite as good.

      • Dave Howick

        Was under the impression NZTA own the portion from the Onehunga to the airport side, not the Puhinui side/ portion required.

    • Dave

      @ Waspman – “Very little etxra catchment”??? At the moment the entire CBD is serviced by rail at one point only. How many potential rail users whose final destinations lie beyond comfortable walking distance of Britomart are put off from using rail as a result? Thousands I would suggest! The benefit of the CRL in opening up a variety of CBD access points should not be underestimated, aside from its other benefits of capacity-increase into the CBD. Are you seriously suggesting the duplication of Britomart with an above-ground version of the same inefficient thing?

      But you are right that there is a strong need to widen rail’s catchment out in the suburbs also. But instead of advocating cancellation of the vital CRL in order to free up money for things like the Pakuranga-Manukau-Airport loop, etc, why not instead encourage cancellation of the likes of the Pu-ford Holiday Highway to achieve the same end? It is the Roads of National’s Extravagance which could end up being the most mis-placed investment the country has ever known.

      • here here Dave, very well said. The catchment area is suitable for CRL and is only going to get bigger, add to that the massive International Convention Centre next to TVNZ, car congestion, car congestion.

  • Duncan

    I notice the trains are magnetic trains or something as they have no overhead wires?
    But yep, I have noticed the CRL post on trains it looks decidedly inaccurate and average. I personally think yes the CRL does cost an arm and a leg, but it does include in it’s price all the upgrades and changes etc, but they when RoNS are processed they only include the majority of works.
    One thing I am unsure of though is will the CRL be future proofed for rail from the shore?

    • Yes it will, the design allows for the station to link to a new pair of perpendicular North Shore platforms under Wellesley St. You can see this in the NoR diagrams. There is no allowance to actually run NS trains through the CRL itself, but I’m not sure why you would want to. The CRL is going to be busy enough as it is, the NS will need it’s own tracks.

  • These are laughable graphics for a multi billion dollar project. Any hack with half a brain could whip that up in two minutes. That is not graphic design, that is utter crap.

  • SteveC

    not to mention the cold, white, uninviting colouring inside the station itself, what about some warmer hues, the inevitable wayfinding and advertising signs? all to show some vitality (I’m waging a war against that horrible neologism “vibrancy”)

  • Sacha

    Keep engineers away from marketing.

  • Auckland Medic

    Looks like the interior of a hospital corridor. From the 70’s.

  • obi

    Could I add a note that the road surface looks shiny. When combined with the angry grey sky, I conclude that they’ve decided to promote the project on the basis that Auckland rains a lot. The City Rail Bunker might be cold, dark, and devoid of all decoration. But at least it is dry. And it will also protect you from the man on the left by the traffic light who is about five times as tall as everyone else and probably wants to crush you with his giant feet.

  • Steve West

    Auckland central – so ugly you will want to stay underground.The sad thing is some consultant would have been paid big bucks. Have seen much smaller cities come up with better designs and marketing.

  • Rharris

    Yes saw the poster in a library. Looked very grim, didn’t elicit excitement. Overall the idea of open days were a good idea.

  • SO GRIM! Its probably been said above, but it looks as if out of a dystopian film. Shadow people moving through a bland, lifeless underground warren.
    More colour, people, activity and architectural creativity.
    Thats the trouble with renders, you get tempted into showing to much detail. Perhaps a more diagrammatic 2d poster would have been better if the design is unresolved.

  • Stu Donovan

    AT should hire NZTA’s marketing people, they sure know how to slap lipstick on transport pigs ;)

  • This is a very odd poster. It’s quite bizzare comparing this with the actual vibrant fun reality of some of the subway systems I have visited overseas. For example, there is a whole station on the Mexico City Metro which is decked out with a science theme, so you walk through the tunnel and suddenly it goes dark and there are pictures of galaxies above you, as well as a lot of other science themed exhibits. In Athens, several of the stations have exhibits in them of pots and other relics dug up from the Acropolis. The Paris metro stations are often surrounded by jolly cafes and pubs at ground level. In Bangkok any major transit station is surrounded by food stalls and clothes shops and all kinds of crazy things. Point is I don’t think it’s hard to think of ways to portray a metro station as fun and vibrant – most big busy train stations are filled with heaps of fun things to do and people to watch.

  • MrV

    Don’t most people know what an underground station looks like? Hardly worth spending money we don’t have on glossy marketing materials, I’d rather have the station and facilities

  • star

    This is almost as funny as “the little things” post. You guys really need to just relax a little.

    • Yep we all need to relax, forget about doing anything right or making anything better and keep trundling on in the same half-arsed way not ever bothering to do anything properly.

  • Sacha

    Key’s your man for relaxation. :)

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