Cartoon Tuesday: Take the Big Blue Bus to the Houston Airport

8_18_09_cartoon_Tuesday.jpgPhoto: Russ Jones

The Big Blue Bus is proudly sporting ads boasting of a new airport service.  The new route provides quite an increase in service coverage for the agency because they aren’t talking about service to the local airport in Santa Monica or to LAX; but service to the airport in Houston.  Remarkably this service will cost riders only $15.  What a bargain!  I wonder how many stops there will be along the route.  If they’ll stop in Vegas, I bet a lot of Angelenos will be interested.

Ok, so obviously there’s been some sort of mix-up at the advertisement agency.  It’s not a surprise, since many transit agencies use contractors to handle their advertising so I imagine this kind of slip-up happens from time to time.  Still, I’ve gotten a couple of emails about this sign slip, and as Dana Gabbard commented, 

And somehow they have been installed etc. and no one noticed they were
for the wrong area…Beyond surreal…

  • Ed Greenberg

    Well, first, who even looks, and secondly, doesn’t the BBB serve the airport? Maybe the ads are targeted to Angelinos who are flying to Houston :)

  • Ryan King

    I agree with Ed. “Your flight to Houston is just the beginning” makes me think the ad is for visitors to Houston who want a quick way into the city.

    Still, it’s pretty weird to advertise on a bus in Santa Monica for a service in Houston.

  • I noticed this ad last week. I even took a photo. At first, I had the same reaction, but then I realized they were targeted at people flying to Houston. Of course the bus I was on was headed to UCLA, not the airport.

    I checked out the web site searching for answers on their advertising campaign and couldn’t find anything.

    It is a *potentially* effective marketing strategy – transit users who are able to afford plane tickets and are flying to Houston may be inclined to take the service rather than a cab. Those with car rental reservations wouldn’t be able to switch. However, I think that in-airport advertising in Houston would be the most effective.

    The advertising placements would make a lot more sense on the LAX Shuttles. All of these buses are air travel related, whereas only the BBB line 3 goes to the airport. Thus, riders see ads on the way to places like UCLA and downtown. I didn’t notice an ad the last time I was on the LAX Shuttle.

    I think this is probably a case of an advertising budget that is too high, or some sort of network of bus ads that provides a discount to transit operators advertising on other systems. If anyone figures this out, let me know.

  • Erik G.


    The SMBBB lines 3 and Rapid 3 DO NOT serve the airport.

    Instead they dump the second-class serfs who dare ride transit in greater Los Angeles at the desolate “LAX City Bus Center” from whence they have to schlep their bags over to the Long-Term Parking Lot C and hope they are sometimes allowed to board one of the few over-crowded high-floor…

    (but finally getting low-floors, 15 years after they became commonplace!)

    …LAWA shuttle-buses. And then THOSE buses “serve” the airport.

    Can anyone think of another airport in the Western World where transit gets such a second/third-class status? Because I can’t.

    (Even John Wayne and Ontario and Palm Springs have transit to the front-door/within a short walk)

  • Yeah, it does appear this is aimed at folks from other areas coming to Houston.

    I am investigating. Turns out BBB ad sales are handled in house.

    Once I get the scoop I’ll post it here.

  • Philip Castillo, Advertising Coordinator and Business Outreach Liaison for
    Big Blue Bus, kindly responded to my query about the ad and gave his OK for me to post here his response:

    Thanks for your inquiry into a posted ad that is currently running on our buses. Other have also inquired about the posters that promote Metro of Houston’s Airport Express. The ad came through a third party agency so I assume that we were part of some packaged deal that fit their ad strategy. I don’t know if this helps but the ad is scheduled to be removed next week.

  • KinOfCain

    Most likely this was remnant (leftover/unused) ad space:

    that was sold to an ad company specializing in remnant advertising at a very reduced rate, which in turn resold it to the Houston Metro Airport Direct under some sort of “We can put ads for your service up in public transit venues in the top-10 origin cities for flights to Houston, and we can do it for [very small cost] per [very large number of impressions]”

    In today’s advertising market, it was probably a pretty good buy on the part of the Houston MAD.


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