Via Rail plays with ad skipping

The company uses skippable ads to show the benefits of taking the train in the final phase of its ongoing platform.
Via Traffic Talk

It might seem counter-intuitive to want audiences to skip your ad. But for Via Rail, the latest and final iteration of its “Why Don’t You Take the Train?” campaign does just that to drive the point home – or rather, take a train ride home.

New clickable online videos allow viewers to jump over several seconds of the campaign ads, much as they would a skippable YouTube pre-roll commercial, without losing the crucial final seconds of brand presence (see an example of how the ad works here).

“We wanted to go into skippable ads, but we wanted to ensure the brand link,” said Simon Parent, senior manager of marketing and optimization at Via Rail. Working with its media partner Touche, he said the company created the format to allow skipping to occur within the ads themselves, reducing them by 12- to 15-seconds each, while keeping the final seconds of brand-related content.

“It’s the first time that we use the discussions on traffic as the inconvenience, rather than showing the person stuck in traffic,” he says.

The two videos – one focused on business, the other on leisure – are served up as sequence stories, with the mother or father continuing their long-winded traffic stories into the second and third chapters of the commercials, when the first portion is skipped.

“You can skip the ad, but then you’ll get another rant from another character, and then if you skip that, you’ll get another rant from another character,” said Parent, “So it just amplifies the fact that our society is obsessed or always talks about being stuck in traffic.”

Much like its other recent campaigns, consideration for the train remains its primary objective, according to Parent.

On social media, Via Rail is running six-second ads, and it’s also investing in out-of-home signage during long weekends throughout the summer.

Via worked with Cossette on the creative.