You have probably noticed on your commute that the CTA is advertising one particular product (er place) a lot lately and it’s getting on everyone’s nerves…
According to STREETS BLOG, inside and outside 15 Brown Line cars shows young people looking depressed on CTA trains with text asking if your daily transit is a complete waste of time…”K.”
The ads are apart of a $1 million marketing campaign from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to tempt Chicago Millenials to move to Wisconsin – although I am not sure how well it is working. Formed in 2011 by Republican governor Scott Walker, the public-private agency was formed in 2011 and the anti-transit policies have included refusing $810 million in federal grants by Walker’s predecessor for a new passenger rail line linking Milwaukee and Madison. What. The. Heck.
The CTA, along with ads on social media, in downtown health clubs, and on beer coasters in local bars, features the tagline “Wisconsin: It’s more you,” a place where young adults can get more out of life by saving money in regards to living accommodations, shorter commutes and easy access to outdoor recreation.
According to Tricia Braun, WEDC chief operations officer, the campaign targets young Chicagoans “who wanted the urban experience but have since become disillusioned with the daily challenges.”
In one ad, the text states “Chicago has the longest commute times in the country compared to only 22 minutes in Wisconsin” and asks the viewer if they’d rather be “Waiting for a train or waiting for kabobs” at a barbecue.
Other ads on the CTA feature sad, young things juxtaposed with still young but much happier people drinking beer on a terrace above Madison’s Lake Monona, playing Frisbee golf, or competing in beach volleyball with the underlying text asking “Rush hour or happy hour?”, “An hour commute or an hour with friends?”, and “Bump elbows or bump on the court?”
But we can read between the lines. The ads want you to believe the el is a waste of time so you should pick up everything and move to Wisconsin to drive everywhere…? But the bigger question is why the CTA is partnering with the anti-transit sentiment.
Jon Kaplan, an agency spokesman, said they don’t have a choice due to First Amendment issues. He then continued saying the CTA’s advertising guidelines prohibit ads for illegal goods or services as well as those containing false information, hate speech, overtly political messages, or mature content, but “if ads meet our guidelines, we accept them.”
But it should be noted the rules also prohibit advertising that “tends to disparage the quality of service provided by the CTA, or that tends to disparage public transportation generally.” But Kaplan preached that the WEDC ads “do not disparage CTA or transit, but instead promote Wisconsin.”
“K” is my current-mood response and will continue to be as I take the train…