A recent Nielsen Report showed that fewer
consumers than ever trust advertising . I can
The average advertisement represents top down, inside out thinking and rarely,
if ever, empathizes with the wants and needs of the consumer. Instead, we're
bombarded with brand promises of faster, better and sleeker products and
There are many egregious examples of the gap that exists between what a brand
promises and what the actual end user experience is (think: airlines, insurance
companies, cable operators, etc.). My personal bete noir is New Jersey Transit.
Since becoming a veritable monopoly decades ago, NJT has excelled at redefining
poor quality and service. A list of complaints would fill an entire train, but
a few of the more overt ones would include:
– Broken restrooms (often awash with waste)
– Rude conductors
– Inexplicable delays (the details of which conductors seem to take perverse
delight in not sharing)
– Trains that always seem to be one car short, hence forcing passengers to
press together like sardines (and, in a Hitchcock-like twist, telling
passengers stuck in the first and last cars that those areas have been as
designated 'silent' zones, so curses and epithets aimed at NJT should be kept
very, very quiet).
None of this would matter if, at the same time, NJT didn't run advertising campaigns
that strain credulity. Last year's effort was headlined:
– 'NJ Transit: Getting you there'
I suggested they add the word 'eventually'.
To add insult to injury, though, NJT has the unmitigated gall to launch a
brand, new campaign, entitled:
– 'NJT: We are listening'
The advertising is an obvious response to the withering rider comments posted
on numerous anti-NJT websites, blogs and Twitter feeds.
But, the new campaign begs the question' What have you been doing for the past
four decades, NJT? Has the commuter rail line suddenly been cured of a
system-wide hearing disorder? Are they, like The Who's Tommy, suddenly able to
see, hear and speak after years of being deaf, dumb and blind?
I don't believe NJT is listening at all. They're merely try to temporarily
placate the great, unwashed masses.
If NJT sought genuine authenticity in their new advertising campaign, the
headline would read:
– 'NJT: We are listening. We don't like what we're hearing. And, we're not
going to improve a damn thing. Live with it.'
I'd be a happier, more content consumer if my providers would only stop making
absurd brand promises while I continue to endure the reality of their everyday
experience. I'd go on, but I've been squeezed into a packed, quiet car and my
typing is upsetting an already pissed-off fellow passenger.
'NJT commuting: where personal safety is your problem.'
Quite true, Catharine. About a decade or so ago, Penn Station had a true Oscar-worthy actress who, having just smeared her face with lipstick, would dash onto an NJT train five minutes before departure and tell passengers she’d just been mugged and needed to borrow the train fare to go home. More than one unsuspecting passenger fell for that ruse.
I like when varying degrees of the unwashed masses try to bum ticket fare in Penn station. It’s the best.
Nice, Brian. I also enjoy the announcements reminding riders that we’re being delayed because we have to wait for an Amtrak train to use the rails before we do (Amtrak owns the rails and NJT leases them). So, we sit and we sit and we sit and, then, bam, an Amtrak train comes blasting by us. Then, ever so slowly, our trains lurches forward. NJT: Getting you there. Eventually.
My favorite line during those inexplicable delays is … “we are currently being held at a stop signal. When it becomes more favorable to the train, we will proceed”. They never say … we are fourth in line, it will just be a minute, traffic is heavy this morning due to “x”. It is just unfavorable to us. And they never divert from this programmed message.