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fill in the blank GROUP 16



pages 2 3,4,5

contents table of contents background info + campaign summary


the creative brief


the tagline + 50 potential winners


ideation techniques: joe + katy


ideation techniques: more!


print ad design 1


print ad design 2


print ad design 3


media: traditional style


alternative selling ideas: by invitation


alternative selling ideas: bookmarks + extras

+ campaign summary


or years now, Austin Steam Train has served as a tourist attraction for families of the Austin area and surrounding suburbs. AST currently has a well defined core audience: families with young children. But, the crowd stops there. As a result, AST’s marketing efforts have mainly focused on retaining this key target group, instead of increasing the breadth of their audience. In effect, by neglecting the concerns of other potential audiences, AST’s brand has been positioned poorly in the minds of many potential customers. Many young individuals, who are free of children and want to do something new and exciting in the Austin area, have been deterred from going to AST because they merely see it as a family affair that is only entertaining for young children. With this knowledge, we realized that we needed to expand what AST could mean to potential customers, while at the same time make certain not to exclude AST’s already strong core audience. What our campaign aims to do is create awareness and make an outreach to a new target audience: young adults who are looking for something new yet memorable to do beyond the normal activities in Austin they’ve already exhausted. We plan to appeal to this target by designing a campaign that redefines and re-brands AST as a place where stories are waiting to be created and memories to be made.


Currently, an experience on the AST for our target feels like this:


I booked the tickets -- first class nonetheless -- for the AST online, two days before the trip day for a total of $68. According to the diagram on the website, it looked like I was booking on a train where I would get my own personal compartment, sweet! I was hoping for a 3-hour romantic getaway with my boyfriend and wanted to try something new and different via the AST. When I got there, I found myself in a cart with six tables cramped together with each seating a family: a mother and father with either one or two children, and then there I was with my boyfriend, a total oddball couple. Apparently if you booked online, you had to call in to request a private compartment, something that I did not see on the website while going through the ordering process. Although the initial awkwardness never ebbed away, it became more evident as the train ride progressed that this trip was totally a family oriented experience. Our guide, an older woman perhaps in her 60s, gave a brief history of just about every sight we passed by, including introducing a Lowes and a Wal-Mart that was recently built, and pointing out a farm that had a llama. Not exactly exciting, to say the least. Privacy was on the bottom of the list as kids and parents walked in and out of each cart to explore the train. Later on, another volunteer employee came into our train to sell raffle tickets and make balloon animals for all of the children in the cart. When the train stopped, we had 15 minutes to explore one small strip of Bertram that consisted of one historical building and one stand that sold fruits and other miscellaneous items. On the way back, we found a compartment in our car that was not being used. The room was tiny and contained three small folding chairs and two small folding tables. Although it was reminiscent of a jail cell, we didn’t complain as we finally found escape from all the children and the prying eyes of their parents. For the duration of the trip, we locked ourselves in this small but private cove and tried to make the best of it. -- Liang Shi, 21

Keeping this perspective in mind, our goal for this campaign is to transform the experience into something not only appealing but also enjoyable and memorable to our target audience.

Some of the current strengths of AST include offering a sort of escape or getaway for residents of Cedar Park and surrounding areas. Within one day, they can travel through the Texas Hill Country, experience a different town, and then return to the comforts of their own home. Certain train rides can be very interactive as well. A few times a year, they offer themed rides (like midnight excursions, murder mysteries, etc.) that sell out fast and early. Currently, the entire environment is extremely family-friendly. No alcohol is allowed on the train, most of the compartments are open to the other passengers (encouraging more interaction), and the employees are all volunteers

+ campaign summary who are both enthusiastic and informative. Not only that, but the riders get to experience the true beauty of Texas and see areas that have not yet been engulfed by the modern age. The biggest strength of AST is their uniqueness. There is no other train like this in or around the city of Austin. They provide a special service that can’t be matched anywhere. The only other train in Austin is Amtrak, which is a modern line used primarily for transportation services only. Their only real competition lies in weekend activities that would serve as substitutions for driving all the way out to Cedar Park. These activities include going to the zoo, movies, plays, Zilker park, Lake Travis, kayaking at Townlake, Imax, Capital Tours, etc. If not free, most of these activities are less than or equal to the total cost required to visit AST.

Despite these strengths, AST also has a few factors working against them. First and foremost, the distance can be seen as a disadvantage. If a potential customer lives in Austin, he or she will face up to a 30 minute drive one-way to Cedar Park. It’s an hour commute round trip. Adding, on top of that, the duration of the trip most likely will take up a whole day’s worth of time. It has to be a pre-planned event and wouldn’t really work as a spontaneous activity like going to a movie or a park would. Another huge factor working against them is their pricing, even though it is somewhat necessary since the entire business is maintained by donations and the money they make off of ticket sales. Still, a family of four would plan on spending at least an average of $80 and couples an average of $40 for a day on the train (not including gas costs for getting there, food, etc.). Beyond the pricing factor, AST also does not provide anything to make the customer come back. It might be a fun one-day experience, but after riding it once, there isn’t a huge desire to return.

While our main concern is expanding AST’s audience outside of families, there are some things that AST could do to strengthen their current core audience even further. First is the idea of doing family packages. Instead of each member paying a certain price, a family of four (with all of them attending the ride) should have some sort of discounted price for all of them attending the ride. This idea could work especially well if the tickets were bought in advance (as some sort of “reward” for getting in early). Another idea would be to offer student and senior discounts. These types of offers are already given at most entertainment spots (movies, museums, etc.) and would help keep the pricing more competitive as well as more appealing to these age groups where budgets may be a bit tighter. Another idea already being practiced in other areas of entertainment that could benefit AST is to allow children under a certain age (typically three or five) ride for free. These young children are almost half the size of any other partially grown child. In some cases, they can’t even walk or talk yet. Parents would be more willing to start taking their families to AST earlier if one of their kids were exempt from regular ticket pricing (even if only for a certain amount of years). These pricing incentives will not only boost AST’s competitive edge but also make it more appealing to more people. To best reach this target group, we recommend using both traditional (newspaper, radio, billboard) and nontraditional methods of advertising to effectively communicate to our audience (more details and in-depth rationale behind media can be found on page 13).

+ campaign summary A great deal of opportunities exist for AST, and our team is committed to expanding the awareness of this gem of an attraction. In addition to spreading consciousness, we recommend AST take on a new set of clientele. We believe the richness of the history and the uniqueness of the train ride would be especially appealing to the target audience of “Joe’s and Katy’s” (refer to page 8) in the Austin and surrounding areas. These are young to middle aged people (late 20s to mid-30s) seeking a new adventure and are attracted to AST’s historical appeal. They’ve been to every corner and attraction in and around Austin and are now seeking something fresh and different. To reach this target, we recommend AST offer later train rides with a more mature and private atmosphere apart from the families with children who are more likely to go earlier in the day. Aside from special event days, the majority of the trains leave at 10 a.m. or earlier, with just a handful of 2 p.m. departures available across their year-long schedule. Most childless, young couples wish to enjoy their weekends by sleeping in. A later time will provide them that comfort, while still letting them look forward to what the day will bring them. An approximate 6 p.m. departure would make it to Bertram by 7:30, just in time to watch the sunset that currently happens circa 7:50 p.m. It will also be beneficial to offer wine and a light meal to customers as an option in order to make it more of a casual “date” night. Because the trains will be later in the evening, the outdoor scenery after sunset during the return trip would not be a main draw. So, entertainment (such as new musicians or instrumentalists) could be the dominate focus for some of these rides. Overall, our main strategy is to encourage people to see AST as a place where they would want to experience and share with people, not only for dates but also for special events in their lives (such as birthday and weddings, a feature already currently offered by AST but not commonly used). As a result, our campaign encourages new ridership overall (during any of the train times), however, we feel that by offering these new, later times, it will offer our new target audience a greater incentive to ride.

For the most part, AST’s only threats lie in potential bad weather, which would inhibit normal train functioning, and other weekend activities that appear more attractive to our new audience. What is going to make the potential new customer want to drive out of his or her way to come experience all AST has to offer? After acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses, we think the ideas and opportunities we expressed earlier will positively influence AST’s business. They have the potential to expand their current markets and breach new ones while still staying true to their core value of history education and preservation And, nothing tremendously cumbersome needs to occur to make this happen. By increasing the number of rides offered per weekend and expanding their food and entertainment, AST could reinvigorate their business. So why not make your weekend historic?

What are we advertising? A weekend trip on Austin Steam Train, a unique and memorable experience aboard a historical mode of transportation. Why are we advertising? To broaden the awareness of Austin Steam Train in and around the Austin area and to expand the target audience beyond just families. We also want to have customers associate their visit with special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, and memorable dates. Whom are we talking to? The “Joe’s and Katy’s” out there (refer to page 8). Our target is mature couples that have reached a level in their relationship where they are comfortable with each other. They enjoy going out and trying new things together that are interactive, new, and romantic. They have done all the “usual” couple things like going to the movies, picnics at parks, visits to plays and museums, etc. They are looking to find a new way to connect and enjoy each other’s company. They are older than 21 but age is not the most relevant thing. What is more important is where they stand in their relationship. They are educated and have careers with stable incomes and see their current partners as potential lifetime mates. They are interested in history and do not follow trends; they set them. They enjoy being a part of the Austin crowd that appreciates creativity, entrepreneurship, and independence. They recognize and value Austin’s history and scenic beauty and love exploring every bit of it. What do they currently think? The target audience has not been exposed to Austin Steam Train. They do not really know much about its services and feel like it is not for them because they have assumed that this is a more family oriented activity and may need to have children involved in order to enjoy it. They feel that the location may be too far to risk having an unpleasant experience. They also feel that it is complicated because you are required to make reservations before time, which deny them the ability to be spontaneous. They also believe the competition to be more accessible. What do we want them to think? We want our target audience to feel that their special occasions or events that they experience throughout their lives will be made unforgettable if they are experienced on Austin Steam Train. We want the target to feel that the advertising is meant specifically for them. What’s the SINGLE most important thing we can tell them? It guarantees to make any occasion memorable. Why should they believe it? Austin Steam Train is an unique historical experience that is unparalleled by the competition. Because of its rich history and one-of-a-kind experience, it will make any special occasion you decide to celebrate there out of the ordinary and unforgettable. Are there any creative guidelines? The advertising should convey that Austin Steam Train is a historic and unique experience that is guaranteed to be a memorable event. It should help the target visualize a ride on the train as fun, exciting, entertaining, and a better activity to typical alternatives. It should not look boring or be text-based. It must be bold, to the point, and visually stimulating, making the target curious and excited to experience Austin Steam Train. The style should be witty to grab their attention, as well as look and feel fun, modern, alive, and unique, and be memorable in their minds.


+50 potential winners


Make your _____ historic.


We wanted people outside of the core audience to realize that AST is more than just a train ride; it is a place where memories and lifelong experiences can be made. This is how we came up with the tagline: make your (blank) historic. Taking a historical train ride is a unique and interesting experience in itself, but we wanted to propose the idea that people could create their own story on the train ride. Taking a ride on AST is more than just a couple hours of entertainment (like a movie, or trip to a museum); AST is a venue where important events in people’s lives can play out. For example: most people can’t even remember what they did for their birthday a year from when it occurred. However, if someone were to have their birthday at AST, it would be an event that they would remember for a lifetime. This was our goal; to make AST a place where memories are made.

1. Lose your train of thought. 2. Get away, but still come back. 3. Something old, yet something new. 4. More intimate than a movie. 5. BYOB--bring your own blanket. 6. Redefine date night. 7. The real love train. 8. For those are seeking more. 9. An oldie, but a goodie. 10. Not your parents train ride. 11. The ride that will change your love life. 12. On the right track to love. 13. I choo-choo- choose you. 14. All Aboard the love train. 15. An old-fashioned affair. 16. An evening for your ties and pearls. 17. A journey through the hill country. 18. Make your weekend historic. 19. Old-fashioned night of love. 20. A ride to look back on. 21. The right track to love. 22. Sometimes you have to go back to the past to move forward. 23. In our business, old-fashioned isn’t an insult. 24. And you though we were just for kids. 25. Like a cruise, but the only water is in the beverages 26. Ride into the sunset with your cowboy/girl.

27. Follow the ties of the rails to destiny. 28. A history museum seems like a great date...if you like spending time with dead old men. Breathe new life into your relationship. Live the History. 29. Lose yourself. Get on. 30. Escape into the unknown. 31. Escape into the land of wonders. 32. Journey to where time stands still. 33. Escape. Relax. Enjoy. 34. You’re in it for the long hall. 35. If Cinderella had a choice. 36. Ever heard of a fairy tale on a train? 37. Things are about to get steamy. 38. A classy ride. 39. A classy affair. 40. An affair aboard. 41. Old-fashioned charm. Modern romance. 42. Old fashioned romance. Modern charm. 43. A modern fairy tale. 44. Don’t streamline your love. 45. Experience something new aboard something old. 46. Moving forward while stepping back. 47. A moving experience. 48. Conduct your own love story. 49. If pumpkin carriages were real. 50. We contacted the fairy godmother. Turns out she’s good with steam trains too.

joe + katy To better envision our target audience, we made up an ideal couple that fits the parameters and qualities of our target to help us better idealize what types of advertising and what approaches would appeal to these two.

meet joseph and katherine

better known as joe + katy

joe is a 28-year-old art curator who makes $55,000 a year. He enjoys running at Town Lake every day around 6 p.m. and has a pet lizard named Iggy. Joe enjoys listening to smooth jazz and plays the saxaphone as a hobby.

katy is a 26-year-old photographer who makes $30,000 a year. She is a big DIY person and loves to shop at vintage stores. Katy loves listening to Indie music and thrives in the Austin music scene.

together they have been dating for one year and 7 months and consider this a serious relationship with potential to last forever. They are considering moving in

together soon, possibly in the South Congress area. Joe and Katy were both not originally from Austin but decided to move permanently after college, which is where they met. They were good friends for a while before deciding to date each other. They love the Keep Austin Weird vibe and appreciates history and uniqueness. They have been everywhere Austin has to offer, including every museum, restaurant and park, and are now looking for something new and interesting to do.


mind map Our goal to make AST a place where memories are made. So, in order to brainstorm ideas for this strategy, we created a mind map of important

events in people’s lives (such as weddings, reunions, birthdays, etc.) and thought of all the different items normally associated with these events (weddings: gowns, limousines, wedding bands; birthdays: cakes, candles, friends; reunions: crazy uncles, games, etc.). After creating the map, we looked at all of these objects and tried to relate them to the train itself. For the two-part wedding ad, we took the common tradition of “something borrowed, something blue, something old, and something new,” and focused on the “old” part. The 1920s and 1950s train cars AST is well known for fit this qualification perfectly. Furthermore, as a twist in the ad, we used the train as a metaphor for the stereotypical “limousine” that whisks people away after their wedding to their honeymoon. For the birthday ad, we recognized that the smoke stack on a train strongly resembles a candle on a birthday cake, so we reframed this part of the train to create visual interest. Finally, we took the cliché “dinner and a movie” date (which is usually not a very memorable event) and showed how this “modern” dating concept could be replaced with a more “traditional,” intimate, and memorable one if it were done on a train.

100 mph As for the nontraditional executions, we used “100-mile an hour thinking” to plan a unique strategy for reaching our target audience. For this, we sat in a

circle and went one by one, from one person to the next, and had each individual say the first idea that came into their head. After we completed this process, we went through and determined the ideas that would stick best with our target audience. The way we weeded out the good ideas from the bad ones was through “as-if thinking.” Through this technique, we thought of all places and activities that we would normally encounter on a daily basis if we were within the target audience. Through this, we were able to determine how we could best intercept our target audience in their daily lives.

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traditional style


ur targets will be looking for a more historical and “Austinesque” activity to do with their date for the weekend. They are tired of the streamlined dinner and a movie night and are actively seeking something new and different that encompasses a more local Austin feeling. Because of this active search, it would be in the best interest of Austin Steam Train to implement advertisements in the newspaper, radio, and outdoor media. When a subject is relevant to a consumer, he/she becomes more aware of advertising for the type of activity he/she is looking for. We plan to place a colored insert in the Sunday edition of the Austin American Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, and The Houston Chronicle. These three major newspapers in Texas are great sources of information pertaining to local events in Texas. Not only do they offer a consumer base in Austin, they are also in circulation throughout other major cities in Texas, thus driving traffic to AST from outside the Austin area. In addition to the insert, we will offer a coupon for 10% off of one ticket in order to drive a direct purchase. The ad will include the phone number, website, as well as a detailed list of dates and times that the train runs. We also plan to run ads on local radio stations. Stations like KVET and KUT will draw in listeners who are intelligent and interested in educational, historical, and unforgettable opportunities like what AST provides. Through these two media, we hope to effectively and efficiently reach an interested consumer base, spread awareness, as well as drive direct purchase. In addition to newspaper inserts and radio announcements, we plan on implementing outdoor ads to our strategy. Not only will these eye catching and attention grabbing ads grab potential consumers but it will also drive traffic to the AST website. These ads will include the website and our tagline, “Make your ____ historic.” Consumers will be intrigued and interested in learning more about Austin Steam Train. We plan to place the outdoor billboards on the sides of 183 on the way to Cedar Park and on the way from Cedar Park to Austin.

selling ideas

by invitation We are going to have the conductor of the train dress in his conductor outfit and hand out invitations to Austin Steam Train at places we believe the target hangs out at, including local coffee shops, Whole Foods, parks, and more. The conductor will grab attention because he is in costume and people, not just our target, will be able to ask questions to get more information on the spot. A personal invite from a sincere conductor makes the effort and idea seem not only genuine but unique and also personal. Being specially targeted and invited makes the target feel special and more likely to want to attend this event.

selling ideas


We plan on distributing bookmarks branded with our idea and theme of “Make your (blank) historic” in bookstores and libraries across the Austin area. The bookmarks will be placed in various books we believe the target may be interested in, including travel books and Austin guide books, in addition to music books and magazines, romance novels, and western themed books. We will also put the bookmarks in other places where books are available (doctor’s office, coffee shop, etc wherever there are books) to increase outreach. This is intended to shock consumers to find something they weren’t really looking for but might be interested in. A feeling of serendipity may occur if they were trying to think of something to do on the weekend with their loved one or if they were trying to plan a special event.


Have a section on AST’s website with the tagline where people can fill in the blank with what they did at AST and write a paragraph about how the experience was (including pictures), further making the event interactive and building community. At coffee shops AST can have little stirrers with their logo on it with the straw poking out where the steam blower on the train would be. Finally, AST could transport one of the lounge cars (or recreate the interior of a lounge car) in an area where the target audience would go. Then, line the interior with Polaroid’s of people with the tagline on them (and the “blank” filled in with various events), so that people can see what AST can mean to them.

Austin Steam Train Campaign Proposal  

Campaign plan to broaden awareness of Austin Steam Train in and around the Austin area

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