The Chicago Transit Project
Riding the train in Chicago is a special kind of magic. It’s dirty, it’s loud, it’s filled with fascinating/kind/talkative/insane/drunk people, and perhaps most importantly, it gets you where you need to go in a moderately predictable amount of time. I truly love the L, and I'm sure many of you do, too.
But we could make it even better.
So today, in the spirit of Daniel Burnham, I am proud to announce a new great plan for the city of Chicago: I want to buy ad space in 100 CTA train cars, so that I can legally put ridiculous stuff up in 100 CTA train cars, and make our commutes more fun.
With our ads, we will be able to inject a little silliness, fun and absurdity into the everyday lives of hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans. And backers will get to vote on the potential ad copy, so you will have a voice in choosing what goes up in the L cars.
Some potential campaigns include:
Facts About Squirrels - Ads alerting the public to "facts" about squirrels. (Example 1: "FACT: You can't prove that squirrels aren't all plotting to sneak into our bedrooms and tickle us in our sleep. #SquirrelTruth." Example 2: "FACT: Statistically speaking, at least one 'person' on this train is actually 7 squirrels dressed up in human clothing. Can you spot him/her? #SquirrelTruth.")
...Vanessa? - Ads from someone pleading to "Vanessa" to take him back. (Example 1: "Vanessa, I'm not allergic to dogs anymore! Please come back." Example 2: "Vanessa, please take me back. I wear button down shirts now. It’s a good look for me, I think.")
Random Pictures of Goats - Ads featuring just pictures of goats, because goats are awesome/hilarious.
Whatever campaign we decide upon, the resulting ads will be silly, fun, and ridiculous. Let me know which one you like best!
The average weekly ridership on CTA trains is almost 4 million. Four million! Imagine how much more interesting we could make those rides—how many commuters’ days we could brighten, how many tourists we could confuse, how many awkward dates we could lend a source of conversation.
Our lives are perpetually overrun with advertisements. Marketing has permeated nearly every aspect of our culture—seriously, try to come up with a part of your daily routine that doesn’t involve branding—and so it’s no surprise the CTA relies heavily on ad revenues to provide Chicagoans with affordable transit. We can’t stop this advertising onslaught, but we can take back just a tiny little bit of what we see—and make it super ridiculous and dumb.
We Can Do This!
I’ve contacted the company that manages advertising contracts for the CTA, and I’ve confirmed that it is feasible for us to pull this off.
If we raise a little over $4,000, I should be able to purchase ad space in 100 CTA train cars. That's enough to reach one in four Red Line cars (the busiest line on the CTA.) If we are lucky enough to exceed our goal, I'll get more ads in as many more cars as we can afford. The more ads we can buy, the more people we can reach.
So let's do this! Let's make the world a little sillier, and our train rides a little more fun. Thank you!!!
(Modified project image by (vincent desjardins), via Flickr)
Risks and challenges
There are some risks and challenges that go along with this project. The CTA has ultimate veto power over all ads that appear in its trains, so it could keep us from pursuing some of the ad copy we would ideally like to include. But I have discussed the matter with the CTA's advertising agency and read through the official CTA advertising policies, and I believe we should have no trouble with this project.
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