Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mad about high-speed rail

I love Mad Men. I also think Vincent Kartheiser (as Pete Campbell) is one of the best things about that show. I also have a history with public rail transportation marketing. So you can bet I clicked when fellow Osocio blogger Rueben Turner posted a little video called Mad Men sell high-speed rail.

Overall, it didn't disappoint. While not as crisp as the real show, the dialogue is funny as Mad Men parody — like when Pete, who can't drive, projects his anxiety about cars onto "a woman", and the references to smoking on the train and having a drink "for the long drive home". (And then there's the discussion of the price of gas in 40 years, which is way, way off.)

"And then, Harry, someday people will use supercomputers to write
articles about us and send them instantly around the world!"

"Pete, have you been smoking reefer with Peggy again?"
It's also nice that they worked with two of the most forward-thinking characters on the show. Pete is always bringing up prescient insights about future marketing opportunities — like realizing Goldstar TVs were a brand that had huge potential for target marketing to "negroes" or conspiring with Peggy to create a media stunt for a failing ham client. Harry Crane (Rich Sommer), on the other hand, is the media guru who saw greater potential in the just-maturing TV market and made his own position as "head of television". (Sounds like social media, doesn't it?)

In the end, though, it's all for a cause. And that cause is for U.S. citizens to lobby their federal government for fast implementation of high-speed rail. And the spot manages to get the key attributes across: downtown-to-downtown service, job creation, no traffic or parking hassles, and the ability to relax and socialize along the way (although no longer in a smoking car). They also address how hard it is to get people out of their cars and airplanes.

Improving the speed, convenience and price of public rail, though, may still be a dream for the future. It's one of those chicken-and-egg things: if you build the infrastructure, will they come?

Now that gas is well over $3/gallon in the U.S. (and much, much higher in Canada), maybe they will.

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