14 Oct 2007, Comments Off on Ad Nauseam: Connex again

Ad Nauseam: Connex again

Author: Helen

Look, folks, it’s not rocket science. If you’re* providing a crappy, substandard service; if you’re struggling to meet targets that the publicly owned system met back in 1951 (and some of your vehicles and equipment are about that old, too); if your stock is owned by a government that’s been reduced to buying rusty old carriages that have been standing in a paddock (leading to who knows what safety issues); if your trains are becoming known as substitutes for sardine tins and your trains and stations are dangerous places to be because you won’t employ staff to keep them safe, or sell tickets…

Then if you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising and PR, don’t be surprised if people just hate you more. (Note to the Liberal party and other political incumbents: this works for you, too.)
Image from martinmerton.com

On top of all the advertising campaigns we’ve had from Connex this year – I’ve counted about four separate poster campaigns on the go – now we’ve got the intensely irritating Martin Merton PhD, a character dreamed up by Connex’s advertising suits. Viral marketing, how adorable! Oh, the lovable, zany madcaps. Martin Merton is supposed to be like the archetypal US motivational guru. Check out the online tutorials with such hilarious titles as “legs wide shut” and “putting mute in commuter”. Hours of entertainment!

Self-help expert Dr Martin Merton is currently in Melbourne to launch his new book. After many months spent studying the habits of Melbourne commuters and many weeks analysing hundreds of commuter comments Dr Merton will finally release his findings in his most recent work, There’s No “I” in Carriage.
Once you adopt his simple psychological principles and clinically tested methodologies you will immediately enter a world of passenger-friendly positivity. From now on that warm fuzzy feeling at the base of your stomach will be commuter pride and not the leaked contents of a Souvlaki.

Oh, my sides are splitting already. This lame attempt to win the hearts and minds of the yoof is just sad. The yoof hate them anyway.

There’s also a glossy version of There’s No I in Carriage given out at stations, which looks as if it was quite expensive to produce.

As well as wasting untold $$$ on this crap, Connex is going to introduce a new kind of electronic ticketing system, which is estimated to cost nearly $500 million – even though the present ticketing system isn’t causing as much trouble as all the other problems the system has. After all this, you can be sure we’ll be waiting a few more decades for trains that can cope with Melbourne’s population, cleaner stations and (yes, I’m a wild, romantic fool), station staff.

*It has to be said, Connex, dreadful as it is, has to share responsibility with the Victorian government, which has just renewed its contract and is supposed to take responsibility for the infrastructure. Their responsible minister has said, straight out, “Do I want to run a train system? I don’t think so.”

Comments (0)

  • Darlene says:

    It’s so annoying how much money they have spent on that cute campaign, when we commuters are packed in like sardines. Grrrr.

  • Helen says:

    I don’t know if you’re a Melbournian Darlene, it appears so from your comment – were you on a Loop train today? It was particularly disastrous. Trains delayed by about 20 mins, and evidently Connex had tried to juggle things by removing carriages from some trains, because I’ve never seen such an extreme sardine situation (outside Taipei or Kolkata, that is.)

  • Ann O'Dyne says:

    and V-Line is the same. Don’t get me started.
    Just sickening to think it does not cross their minds that for the $500 Million, every station could be staffed 24/7, with a flow-on effect of reduced vandalism, improved safety, higher ticket sales, lower unemployment ……….

  • Darlene says:

    Queenslander living in Melbourne, Helen. No, I missed that.

    Apparently in Japan they pay people to push more and more people into trains, so perhaps there are places where it’s worse.

    I will muse on that this arvo when someone’s crotch is in my face.

  • Darlene says:

    And you can you just imagine the smart alec just graduated journalism student/adviser/communications person who came up with that campaign?

  • Embi says:

    I think you should run a poll: Which is the most annoying condescending insult to the intelligence advertsing campaign the Victorian public transport system has run in 2007? The BATBYGOBSTAPL Bitch? The 1970s style Fare Evaders watering your graden cringe-fest? Dr Merton’s ‘There’s No I in Carriage’? The one where they pretend that catching public transport is easy, convenient, reliable with plenty of seating for all?

    And the final insult to injury is when regular commuters get fined $162 for forgetting to validate a ticket, mainly because there were approximately 5 billion people in front of them on the tram. It doesn’t matter that they have a ticket which has been validated four days previously in a row or that they have no previous history of ever being caught without a valid ticket, there is no room to warn people for an honest mistake.

  • JahTeh says:

    I’m with Annie O’Dyne on the spending of the $500 million. Stuff machines, give people jobs and commuters, peace of mind.

    ‘someone’s crotch is in my face’, Darlene, you should live for the moment. You’re too young and a Queenslander, to remember Melbourne’s infamous red rattlers where ‘crotching’ and clutching was an everyday hazard.

    I still remember the poor man I nearly de-crotched with an umbrella, I hope he went on to father children.

  • Meself says:

    Crikey you get about a bit … obviously not monkeying about by taking the last Connex train to Clarkesville.

  • Helen says:

    Yes you nailed it: “annoying condescending insult to the intelligence”, thank you Embi, dreamed up by a “smart alec just graduated journalism student/adviser/communications person”, thank you Darlene, thank you ball boys. It’s the constant attempts to be cute, lovable and edgy that make me want to throw up. RUN A PROPER TRANSPORT SYSTEM PEOPLE.

    I’ve only done five posts in this category so far and two of them are about Connex. Remember the arty-farty “Don’t Hold Others Back” campaign which managed to waste millions of the commuters’ dollars while blaming them for everything?

  • Tony says:

    Writing from Nairobbery I am minded to say you don’t know when you are lucky, but that would be unfair. But I will observe it appears that Darlene scored a seat (or expects to). Unless you are about 3 feet tall that suggests it ain’t all bad.

  • martin copelin says:

    There used to be an organization called Victorian Railways. While most of its lines have been pulled up, I understand there is a fair bit left. Any real Lab or government would put the R into railways, take them back from these incompetent companies, and try to put bums more comfortably into seats and dangerous trucks off the road.

  • TimT says:

    Yeah, that’s right, the emphasis on public image making is awful. I was thinking of doing a post about these ads myself, they were so spectacularly stupid, but they’ve already been taken down in The Herald Sun, The Age, and just about every Melbourne blog.

    Though I love the fact that in these ads, Connex is attempting to take the piss out of condescending self-improvement books and gurus in order to push… a condescending self-improvement message on their customers.

  • TimT says:

    I suppose, though, you could say that the marketing genius who came up with this campaign secretly wanted it to appear stupid, out of a veiled hatred for Connex. Stranger things have happened.

  • Damien Eldridge says:

    Some passengers are problematic as well. I wish they would ban smoking and spitting at railway stations. Both are feral. To say nothing about the people who leave their rubbish on the trains, the people who drink alcoholoc beverages on trains, the people who smoke on trains and the people who spit on trains.

  • Helen says:

    I wish they’d do something about it too. There are legions of greatcoated stasi going through from time to time… all solely concerned with tickets and fare evasion. You can have violence, feet on seats, foul language and people with cans of Bundy and coke, and suddenly mysteriously there are no greatcoated Stasi to be seen.

    The priorities are revenue, revenue and revenue. If they pulled their head out and look about them, they’d realise providing a real service would increase their revenue rather than the current hamfisted tactics.

  • TimT says:

    I’ve seen drinking on trains and chroming on trains, but never smoking. (A furtive last puff of a cigarette as the doors close, followed by the quick flick onto the tracks, yes.)

    Partly I think it is the responsibility of people who use the trains to do something about this themselves. There’s not really that much difference between suited yuppies who leave issues of MX scattered around the trains that gradually fall beneath the seats, onto the floor, etc, and idiots who leave their bottles on the seats.

    I’ve picked both up on many occasions, but have never had the guts, I’m afraid, to ask others to throw their rubbish out instead of leaving it on or under the seats.

  • Helen says:

    TimT, try “doing something about it (your)self” and you’ll find yourself told where to stick it, at best. At worst, you’ll find yourself beaten up.
    This sort of job is meant for professional railway staff. Why can’t the Greatcoated Ones justify their miserable existence by picking up on some of these miscreants? We, the passengers, don’t have any authority. It would be nice if all the inhabitants of a carriage rose up and lynched Mr Abusing-the World-at- Large- with- Bundy- in- Hand, but it doesn’t happen outside my fantasy.

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