Giving College Students a 90-Minute Hall Pass

90 Minutes for Whatever

Amtrak Hiawatha

College is exhausting. Rarely do you have time to put your feet up, your headphones on and just daydream. Enter Amtrak Hiawatha. It’s not just a way to get to Chicago or Milwaukee without sitting in soul-crushing traffic. It’s 90 minutes for you to do you.

3,045

Student discount
codes redeemed.

1085%

YOY increase in discount
code redemptions.

3X

Surpassed revenue goal
three times over.

The Big Idea

Amtrak Hiawatha has seen years of continued ridership growth among the core target audiences of business travelers and weekenders in the Chicago and Milwaukee metros. In contrast, area riders in the college students segment sorely lagged behind the national average. Our charge was to grow Amtrak Hiawatha ridership among college students living in the two metros.

"Eat Crackers and Stare out the Window" promotion for Amtrak Hiawatha by Laughlin Constable.
"Panic Study Your Way to a B" promotion for Amtrak Hiawatha by Laughlin Constable.

The reality of stressed out students.

College students need an occasional mental break from the pressure of finding the right friend group, the pressure to achieve academically, the pressure of maintaining their personal brand on social media, the pressure of missing out on things because of all the things they’re juggling and often the pressure to just fit in.

Amtrak Poster saying, "Eat Crackers and Stare out the Window"

Tapping into the college student’s need for downtime.

Designed to feel like living, breathing sculptures, we created posters that playfully highlighted how Amtrak Hiawatha provides college students some much-needed ‘me-time’ for a good 90 minutes between the two cities. To get said students to stop and absorb our message, we placed posters on Milwaukee campus bus shelters to show them – in aggressive detail – exactly what they’re missing.

Amtrak poster saying, "Panic Study your way to a B"

Why It Worked

We knew we had to cut through the campus clutter and raise a few eyebrows. We knew we had to cut through the campus clutter and raise a few eyebrows. So how do you get busy college students to look at something not on their phone? By putting a mirror up to their deepest desire: free time. Whether that means binge eating crackers with a side of spray-can cheese or panic studying 100-flash cards on Napoleon Bonaparte – it’s 90 precious minutes to do whatever your heart desires.

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