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I want to buy ad space in 100 CTA train cars so that I can put ridiculous stuff up in 100 CTA cars—and make our commutes more fun. Read more

Chicago, IL Art
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I want to buy ad space in 100 CTA train cars so that I can put ridiculous stuff up in 100 CTA cars—and make our commutes more fun.

Chicago, IL Art
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About this project

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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FAQ

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    27 backers

    We'll put your name up on our website to say thanks for donating, and because you are awesome!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    18 backers

    We'll put your name up on our website, and also I will smile and wave to someone I don't know the next time I am on the sidewalk. Let's spread us some happiness in your honor!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    10 backers

    I will write "[Your name] is awesome" on a piece of paper, and slip it into a RedEye newsstand box, so that a lucky morning commuter can learn of your greatness. Also includes listing on our website!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    11 backers Limited (14 left of 25)

    The next time I order a food or beverage item at an establishment that asks for your name when you order a food or beverage item, I will give them your name. Also includes listing on our website!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    13 backers Limited (12 left of 25)

    You will get a exclusive, limited edition print of a picture featuring a squirrel riding a CTA car, drawn by noted Chicago artist Collin Dahlgren!

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    6 backers Limited (9 left of 15)

    You'll get a print of one of the ads that will appear in the CTA train cars! Also includes listing on our website!

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    2 backers All gone!

    You'll get two tickets to Improvised Double Dare at ComedySportz Theater in Chicago, plus all of the stuff from the RedEye newsstand reward. (Must redeem tickets by September 21, 2014.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    You'll get two tickets to see Switch Committee at iO Theater in Chicago, plus all of the stuff from the RedEye newsstand reward.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    3 backers

    I will walk into a busy coffee shop in Chicago and hang up a flyer that says "[Your Name] is a world-class human being and lover." I'll also go back later that week to make sure it's still hanging there, and if for some reason it isn't, I'll put up a new one to replace it. Also includes all the stuff from the Redeye newsstand reward!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    I will write a short, Dr. Seuss-style story about you, and then recite it aloud at a CTA train station. (You will also get a copy of the story, of course.) We'll also list your name on our website!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    I will bake you fresh cookies, and deliver them to you in a Ronald McDonald costume while singing a 90s pop song of your choosing. Also includes listing on our website!

    (Reward delivery available in Chicago only. Note: McDonald's does not in any way endorse this project or reward.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)

    I will walk around wearing a t-shirt with your name on it for one day. The t-shirt can also feature a PG slogan of your choosing that I will put on the back. Also includes the stuff from the Redeye newsstand reward!

    (Humans only, please. No company names.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    0 backers

    You and a guest will get an unofficial tour of Chicago from the comfort of a moving CTA train car! Ben will serve as your tour guide, giving your all sorts of fascinating insights about our fair city—many of which may even be real! Reward includes a FREE T-SHIRT and FREE COOKIES!

    (Tour dates TBD. Travel to Chicago not included.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    I'll spend an afternoon in downtown Chicago wearing a t-shirt with your face on it, and handing out flyers promoting a website that is dedicated to how awesome you are, which I will make.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)

    Your name will appear on one of the ads! Millions of people will know how cool you are! MILLIONS!

    (Humans only, please. No company names.)

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (32 days)