A Metra train car is getting a presidential makeover this month as part of an advertising test that could lead to extra revenue for the commuter rail agency.
The car will be wrapped on both sides with an advertisement from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism that features the likenesses of the four presidents with Illinois roots: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. One banner reads, “Follow their path. The presidential trails of Illinois,” while another reads, “Take a trip with the presidents. The presidential trails of Illinois.” Each features the tourism bureau’s motto, “Mile after Magnificent Mile,” and its website address, enjoyillinois.com.
Over the course of the four-week campaign, the wrapped car will be rotated among several Metra lines, including the Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West, UP Northwest and Rock Island. Metra’s advertising contractor, Clear Channel Metra LLC, is conducting the test to see how well the material holds up to Metra’s operations and Chicago’s weather. The wrap is a vinyl material with a removable adhesive that is made especially for bus and train cars. The material does not significantly block the view out of the windows.
The wrapped car will make its first appearance along the Milwaukee District North route between Chicago and Fox Lake on Monday, Feb. 9, departing Union Station at 5:12 p.m. Media interested in a photo opportunity at Union Station should contact Metra Media Relations at 312-322-6776.
All material, artwork and labor were donated by Clear Channel and its contractors to perform the test. The Illinois Bureau of Tourism, which is not being charged for the advertisement, was chosen as the sample client.
After the test is completed, Clear Channel will calculate labor and production costs and determine what kind of revenue could be generated. They will also survey potential buyers. Metra expects that the program could eventually generate tens of thousands of dollars per ad campaign.
“We are exploring all opportunities to boost our non-fare income, which is important as we strive to maintain reasonable fares and keep our revenues in line with expenses,” said Philip Pagano, executive director of Metra.
This test is different from one conducted several years ago that featured a “Go Bears” banner. The new wraps are larger, and Clear Channel believes they would be a more attractive product.