Case Studies

case_studies_imageShock and Awe New Product Launch

Double-Decker Fun!

A “Shock and Awe” New Product Launch. Double Decker buses are fixtures on the cityscape of London. Through the years there have been a steady parade of buses flowing onto the crowded streets of London. So where do the Double Deckers go? Well, up until a few years ago some were imported into the US and showed up on the bustling streets of New York City.

Situation:Several companies ranging from horse drawn carriages in Central Park to buses operate sightseeing in New York City. Bus service range from vans to mini-buses on the small end, to full sized motor coaches and double decker buses on the big end

Problem: How do you come into a highly competitive market and capture significant market share to build a profitable business in a market legendary for high operating expenses? Second, how do you brand your service to clearly differentiate you from the pack? And finally, how do you promote the service to capture significant market share?


Research: There were several elements to the research process. The first involved a detailed competitive analysis. This included every element from pricing and scheduling to promotional strategies.

The second level of research involved branding and positioning research and included field research and follow up testing to validate results.

Branding: As a result of the research we developed a comprehensive branding and positioning strategy. In this case we determined that the core branding would emanate from the livery, or the actual brand image applied to the double decker bus. Becasue these large buses were traversing the busy streest of Manhattan, exceptional care was taken at this stage of the process to ensure only the highest quality in design and materials were used, These buses would be rolling billboards and would carry qaulity positioning we identified for the service.

From the livery we extended branding to print, broadcast and online application, including an eCommerce-booking engine.

The key finding on this project that set it apart from the typical branding study was the role of livery in driving the design and message to be carried and embodied in the brand. The final product included an array of stylized NYC icons and distinctive bod and easy to read typeface.

Equipment: One of the decisions to invest heavily in branding the buses came as a result of the decision to invest in a new fleet. this would be the first time NEW double deckers were introduced in New York City since WWII. Launch date for the new service would be set based on the delivery date and application of livery on 15 new buses to be imported from the UK.

Product/Service Launch: Due to the highly competitive environment and the significant investment in equipment, the company wanted to ensure a highly visible launch for the new sightseeing tours.

We selected the most visible spot in the city and set about to secure permissions and arrange for the details of the launch. We wanted the launch to have the same shock and awe on competitors to firmly establish our new service as THE market leader. The company expected us to deliver media coverage and a ceremony fitting the occasion.

The Launch Event: Prior to launch day, collateral was completed, POS signage developed and buses branded and draped for the launch event. Then, on launch day, a fleet of 4 brand new buses, freshly branded, came rolling down Broadway into Time Square behind a police escort, and stopped in the “Bowtie” of Time Square to a standing room only crowd of media, industry leaders, and NYC officials. Atop the double deckers were celebrities Henry Winkler, Michelle Lee, and a bagpipe band from Scotland. A christening ceremony was held in front of a bank of TV cameras and photo journalist from around the world.

The Results: The Company expected us to develop a distinctive brand and positioning strategy, then implement it. Additionally, we were to plan and stage a visible launch event and turn out media coverage.

The final result was a dramatic and powerful brand image on the bright red fleet of double deckers with gold icons stretched on the broadsides of the buses. We also exceeded the company’s expectation on media coverage as international media turned out to catch “The Fonz” and Michelle Lee from Broadway, christen the new fleet of double-decker sightseeing buses.

And then what? After the party was over, the company started to make money. Their pre-planning and investing has paid off and continues to do so. they maintain a dominant market leadership position, their clearly branded buses appear in a host of TV show and movies, and their revenues tell the story of an attractive return on investment.