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Our endorsement "I'm On The Bus" campaign

How it all started

Roger French "It all began when people kept saying to me 'I'm using your buses' whenever I met them", Brighton & Hove's managing director Roger French explained. "I thought that's great but why are they telling me this?"

Sadly in many towns and cities bus travel still has a down market image. The impression given is that buses are there for those who can't afford to use a car and have to use public transport. "Even when we began the endorsement campaign in 2004, buses in Brighton and Hove had become a respected way to travel around the city with high frequencies, simple fares and modern buses and it was the motorist who was the poor transport relation."

"We thought 'let's raise the profile even more' by taking high profile adverts each week in The Argus newspaper featuring a whole range of prominent local people who we knew used the bus, and were proud of it - because they told us".

All the people who took part in the campaign which ran during 2004 readily agreed and it soon made a huge impact. One cynic even complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that two of the endorsement comments couldn't be true! This really upset the two notable people concerned as they were among our most loyal customers - and still are! The ASA dismissed the complaint outright.

Towards the end of the campaign, the Company updated its bus livery and the decision was taken to phase out commercial advertising from third parties and instead raise the profile of bus travel even higher in the city with exclusive promotional messages for buses.

"This began in 2004 with the backs of nine buses in the new livery featuring a huge photo of one of three of our prominent people endorsement adverts," Roger French recalled. "These were very effective and created huge interest. It won a Bus Industry Marketing Award in 2004. That year, in discussion with the creative design agency who had designed our livery and the ads, we looked at ways of giving the campaign a broader appeal and came up with the 'I'm On The Bus' bus side".

A mock up appeared in the Winter 2004 edition of the Company's On Route magazine inviting passengers to join the campaign and have themselves portrayed in a megasize 12 foot tall image on the side of a bus. "We had a great response and the first buses featuring the new larger than life endorsements appeared in January 2005."

"Since then we have been delighted with the response from people of all ages and backgrounds not only talking about the campaign but offering to be part of it and its been a huge pleasure to gradually extend it to more and more buses. It really has been a great way of connecting with the community we are pleased to serve and making our buses come alive with the people who travel around on them", Roger French added.

"All our bus side spaces have now been taken but we still receive interest to take part in the campaign and these are all kept safely in our pending file for future consideration".

Mike Cheesman,  Marketing Manager In 2007 the campaign has been extended to include colleagues who work for Brighton & Hove across the full range of different jobs that go to make up the company. From drivers to cleaners, supervisors to managers. Back office staff to driving instructors and skilled fitters and apprentices. "Even I appear to say thank you to everyone for their support", Roger French admitted.

In case you haven't seen all of them, all of those currently brightening up the sides of the bus fleet as well as some which no longer feature as the bus has been repainted can be viewed on this site.

Later in 2008 the campaign has been expanded to show how buses fit into city life. "The bus and The City" shows how people from all walks of life use the bus to fulfill their job, their education, leisure pursuits and community work. Buses really are part of the city.