A rallying cry to use railways
Best Social Impact Campaign


Trainline launched a compelling social impact campaign, “A Rallying Cry to Use Railways”, emphasizing railways’ crucial role in fighting climate change. The initiative explored community, culture, and climate through interactive technology, inspiring individuals to make environmentally-friendly choices. Its strategic goal was to stir debate, alter attitudes, and aid in creating a sustainable future through increased railway use.
Trainline hero image - Francis Bourgeois and Craig David on a train

Takeaways Best Social Impact Campaign

Leveraging huge talents like Craig David and internet’s favorite trainspotter, Francis Bourgeois, enabled us to elevate the campaign’s reach and engagement.

Through the clever use of comedy and technology, it made a potentially dry subject engaging and easily accessible to a broad audience.

The social impact campaign effectively used music to convey a social impact message, while also generating pride amongst those who choose the environmentally friendly method of train travel.

The campaign smartly employed UGC and behind-the-scenes content, crafted exclusively for the cause, to create a user-focused, impactful message about sustainability and personal choices.

Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app and a one-stop-shop for train and coach travel, saving travellers’ time, effort, and money. 

With a purpose for helping people make more environmentally friendly travel choices, the brand enlisted DEPT® to spread the word of its ‘I came by train’ campaign across paid social channels, inspiring people to help fight climate change and lower their carbon footprint by opting to travel by trains over cars and planes.

Trainline Francis and Craig graphic

I came by train

At the heart of Trainline’s campaign is a song Better Days [I Came By Train], featuring British singer-songwriter Craig David, which is a love letter to Mother Nature and a rallying cry for society to help protect the planet, delivered by ATL agency, Mother.

Cars and planes create 58% of the UK’s transport CO2 emissions, whereas the entire rail network adds up to just 1.5%. The release of the song marked the start of the brand’s ‘I came by train’ (ICBT) movement, raising awareness of the environmental benefits of rail travel and encouraging pride in choosing to travel by train.

DEPT®’s brief was to raise awareness of rail travel as a more sustainable choice amongst an audience of under 30s, with objectives to: 

01  Generate pride in rail and amplify the ICBT pledge message
02  Inspire the audience with how small changes can make a big impact 
03  Drive engagements, creating a movement on social 

We led the digital delivery of the campaign, spreading awareness of the song and its message across paid social platforms, by giving audiences exclusive access to behind the scenes material, supported by a solid, user-generated content strategy.

Shouting about sustainability

What better way to get a campaign for trains noticed, than to rope in the internet’s favourite trainspotter, Francis Bourgeois? So of course, that’s what we did… 

At the heart of our digital campaign was an exclusive behind-the-scenes hero video which saw Francis and Craig meet in the carriage of a Class 108 DMU train, naturally

They talk about all things Better Days [I Came By Train], including the dual meaning behind the track in that it is a love song, but that it also speaks of the work that we need to do to repair our relationship with the environment and how we must come together for the good of the planet.

We also made a series of shorter, platform-first assets with Craig and Francis that went live across YouTube, TikTok and Instagram throughout the campaign. 

Our multi-channel content delves into the meaning and inspiration behind the song, amplifying the campaign’s sustainability message. We used games – ‘Seven Better Days’ and ‘Fast Track Questions’ – and the pair’s chat to create scroll-stopping in-feed ads, pushing to the master edit on YouTube, as well as the pledge page. 

The edits were designed to be highly engaging with offbeat graphic treatment in a social-first take on the ICBT campaign’s art direction, guaranteeing impact.

ICBT ft. you

The campaign was bound to get noticed due to the large followings of our hero talent, but to really land the purpose-driven campaign and pledge messaging (and ultimately change transport behaviour), we recognised that we needed to put our audience front and centre of the ICBT message. 

We maximised reach by enlisting the support of, and speaking through, numerous leading influencers in the sustainability space; people we knew our audience were already listening to.

The aim was to kickstart a wave of people to talk about sustainability, that would help us delve deeper into the campaign message, spread word about the ICBT pledge, and encourage audiences to lower their carbon footprint by travelling by train. Because after all, if Craig (and our creators) were doing it, hopefully more people would want to.

We galvanised a whole host of creators like ShxtsnGigs, Sam Bentley, and Brooke Vincent to spread the word on sustainable travel and take the ‘I Came By Train’ pledge, swapping one plane or car journey for the train; using Craig’s song as a rallying cry, as well as a consistent tie.

8.5m

users reached

53.4m

total impressions

500k

completed views

Driving results

Recognising that our already environmentally conscious, under-30s audience largely consumed content on TikTok and Instagram, we identified those platforms as our primary channels. 

TikTok saw particularly impressive user engagement, accounting for 38 million (71%) of our total impressions. And our platform-first approach to asset creation, as well as expert talent selection, led to 70% of all complete views watched with sound on, compared with the average 20%.

On Instagram, we gained more than 1.3 million video views through Francis Bourgeois’ channel alone, which assisted in driving more than 200,000 people to the ICBT pledge page overall. 

Our combination of BTS and UGC content helped to land the sustainability message for Trainline, and foster pride in making sustainable travel choices.

Craig David and Francis Bourgeois on trains, favourite gigs, and protecting our planet is the unlikely chat we knew would get people talking. Two nationally-loved legends, albeit from different sides of the track, they’re the perfect pair to lead the movement towards more sustainable travel.

Bel Moretti, Creative Director, DEPT®

Questions?

Managing Director, Marketing Technology UK

Ali Mcclintock

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