Amtrak Ads Call Out Air Travel While Execs Mull Basic Economy

by Tammy Levent

Before this national campaign, Amtrak’s advertising efforts were concentrated in promoting services in the Northeastern corridor, such as the Acela high-speed train from Washington to Boston, according to Darlene Abubakar, Amtrak’s senior director of national advertising. “We have a huge market share in the Corridor,” she said. “Before, we had a more linear approach, promoting certain products like Acela. Now we want to focus on the brand holistically.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Amtrak has a new video ad campaign that takes airlines to task for making passengers uncomfortable. Amtrak positions itself as offering some relief to frustrated travelers.
  • The target market is comprised of new Amtrak customers, people who consistently drive or fly, rather than commuters who already use Amtrak regularly.
  • The popularity of basic economy shows that many travelers would rather grit their teeth through the discomfort than pay more.

“Amtrak’s incoming CEO, Richard Anderson — formerly the CEO of Delta Air Lines — has some people worried that Amtrak will mimic the airlines and move forward with restrictive basic economy service.”

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