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A person stands on the shoulder of our Sound Transit 'conductor' character while being filmed by a crew.

'We’ll take the trip off your shoulders,' Sound Transit’s new ad campaign promises

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Every year, Sound Transit runs a ridership campaign encouraging residents in our region to try transit.  

We’ve used different themes and taglines over the years – from “The Future is Sound” featuring jetpacks and teleporters, to “Link is the Link” showing the connections you can make using the 1 Line.  

If you use social media, watch tv or listen to the radio, you may have heard about this year’s campaign, “Hop on Sound Transit.”  

The ads, which have been running since mid-September, were produced by local agency Copacino  Fujikado.  

The concept was to tout the benefits of taking transit versus driving. Instead of stewing in traffic, passengers can read a book, do a crossword puzzle, knit, or just look out of the window and relax. In a sense, it’s a weight off their shoulders.  

“Humor is the hook,” said Sound Transit Marketing Director Tim Healy, noting that the campaign inspiration was “what if a Sound Transit vehicle took a human form?” 

The next step was to bring that concept to life. That entailed hiring a production company, casting the Sound Transit conductor character, hiring stunt people, choosing filming locations, and transporting a sophisticated harness and rig from Los Angeles to Seattle so that one actor could literally ride on another’s shoulders.  

(Of course, that was all edited out in post-production).   

“I love live productions,” Healy said. “We did that in 2019 with the teleporter and the jetpacks and I just wanted to get back to that.” 

Due to filming constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our recent campaigns have been animated, and focused more on health and safety than increasing ridership.  

The pandemic really changed the way we look at our advertising efforts – though building confidence that is safe and secure to use public transit remains a priority. 

“We used to focus on getting people from A to B, from where you live to where you work,” Healy said. “Now with a largely hybrid workforce, we’re gearing this toward a market that’s not just commuters.”  

We’ve been doing advertising campaigns for over a decade. In 2012, we did market research and a region-wide survey.  

“It showed that 70 percent of the population didn’t use transit – didn’t even know it exists,” Healy said.  

So that’s why we do these annual campaigns – to raise awareness of Sound Transit services, to generate revenue and ridership for our agency and region. 

“It’s part of doing business. You don’t just do it once and you’re done,” Healy said. “The ‘build it and they will come’ approach only works for baseball movies.”  

Oh, and it also wins us national recognition and awards (eight in the past five years from organizations like APTA and Ad Club).  

Check out a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot: 

An actor in an orange jacket sits on the shoulders of the Sound Transit conductor character, who is wearing blue, green, white and a hat.
A large rig is used to support actors for our ad with the message 'we'll take your trip off your shoulders.'
A monitor on site at the ad shoot

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