COMMENTARY: If LCT could give an award for Ad Of The Month, it would have to go to CLS NEVADA’s one page dramatic promo in the Farm-In/Farm-Out section of the April issue of LCT Magazine.
I say “drama” because the ad adroitly balances a mix of humor and horror to sell a limo service while communicating a public service. Its simple format uses a minimum of words to maximize powerful images.
One of the most under-promoted aspects of chauffeured service is its overall safety that can bring clients peace of mind: Don’t worry about that extra cocktail, you don’t have to drive home. The societal stigma attached to driving under the influence of alcohol has become so strong that a DUI conviction now results in devastating financial losses, suspension of driving privileges, and in some cases, lost jobs. In California, that could mean blowing a .08 in a BAC test, or the equivalent of just two drinks on an empty stomach during a late afternoon cocktail mixer.
Try putting yourself in the current job market as an unemployed worker with a DUI conviction.
Ads that promote the theme of “safe” and “fun” while presenting an unpleasant alternative will resonate strongly with potential clients — not just the ones who like to party hard, but with the much wider clientele who enjoy “just a few drinks with dinner.”
Which brings me to another benefit of chauffeured transportation that I have found to be undersold and undervalued: Airport convenience.
Several years ago, before I came to work for LCT Magazine and experienced the enlightened view of ground transportation, my wife and I stood at length in a cab line at LAX after enduring a long flight and the stop-n-go orbits of a baggage carousel. We paid $75 including tip for a cab ride to the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, a fairly direct route at that time of night from LAX.
Obviously, for $10 to $20 more, a chauffeured ride would have delivered better value. But like most people, we wrongly assumed those black Town Cars are just for celebrities and the top 1% of wage earners.
In another post-flight scenario years ago, I took a $25 ride through shuttle hell. My bargain ticket bought me multiple criss-cross trips through my local area as the driver got lost dropping other riders off first. When my turn finally came, I almost walked away with the wrong black suitcase that the driver unloaded in the dark. Fortunately, the passenger whose suitcase I was rolling away happened to look out from the rear bench seat upon which he had stretched out his legs.
You don’t have to be a wealthy CEO to get the point. So how many middle class Americans are as clueless as we were about the options of chauffeured rides? Probably enough to make advertisements aimed at that potential market worthwhile.
Adopting the same approach as the CLS NEVADA ad, for example, an enterprising operator can show a harried family of four with eight pieces of luggage waiting for a cab. Or cramming into a blue-and-yellow shuttle packed with passengers on bench seats. Then show another picture of a family following a chauffeur pushing a luggage cart out to a black SUV or sedan. Not many words are needed to sell that concept.
I hope the CLS Nevada ad inspires plenty of bold marketing creativity among operators. They could use the added business and the traveling public certainly would appreciate knowing about the benefits.
-- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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