The Car-Free Diet is a fun and innovative marketing campaign designed to entice people to “do the right thing” by reducing car use. The creative campaign uses a parody on consumer diets to promote public transport, walking, biking and other alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles.
Background & Objectives
Arlington County Commuter Services generates coordinated marketing campaigns each year to make residents and workers aware of the array of transportation options, create a widespread ethic of a relatively car-free or car-lite lifestyle, and do this in terms of personal benefits to themselves. The campaigns are becoming increasingly sophisticated over the years, and are producing documented results. The 2006 “Way To Go Arlington” campaign resulted in 22% awareness of the campaign and 60% of those aware reported they started or increased their use of transit, walking, biking and ridesharing. The objective of the 2007-08 Car-Free Diet is to make the campaign more fun, hip, and consumer-friendly using humor and web-based techniques that make it easy to get involved and see concrete results, not only for the individual, but also for the community. The philosophy is similar to that of familiar dieting techniques, including personal commitment to goals, measurement toward the goal, and flexibility to positively reinforce any gains made.
Campaign Elements include:
- Brochure mailed to all residents with detailed transit information, transit/bike/walk map and coupon for a free bus ride
- Carfreediet.com website with calculator, car-free diet challenge and car-free options
- Car Free Diet blog for sharing individual stories >
- Banner ads on Commuterpage.com and washingtonpost.com
- The book “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car” by Chris Balish with a special Arlington focused chapter
- Ads in the Metrorail stations on Metrobuses, and in targeted local papers
- Ads of high creative and graphic quality and play on several diet themes
- Give-aways such as books, t-shirts, pins, candy, and Carfree Diet button
- Various public relations announcements to the media, events, and street promotions.
Arlington Transportation Partners will promote the campaign and challenge to the business community through their business-to-business marketing and a Community Expo targeted to businesses, as well as to the public.
The campaign will tie in with Fresh AIRE, the Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions, and the FitArlington program.
The Car-Free Diet campaign has just launched and already has 50 participants taking the challenge. Anecdotal response to the campaign and materials has been very positive. Surveyed documentation of past campaigns suggests that a well-designed, comprehensive campaign marketed through various media and events can have a significant impact upon the travelling public in Arlington. Results will be reported in time for the conference presentation.
Text shortened and taken from ECOMM abstracts.