- Are you laughing yet? (Photo: WMATA)
Yesterday I mentioned WMATA's nice set of public-relations moves that helped pivot customers' attention away from some less palatable news items about Metro and its operations. Metro unleashed what I called the toys of summer, from renderings of their new "futuristic" rail cars to a trial session involving Internet-rechargeable SmarTrip cards. WMATA, in other words, played the card of cool.
But today WMATA showed a surprising side. No, the massive institution doesn't just want to be cool. They want to be funny. And about themselves!
Check out this graphic posted today on the Metro Forward page. You can see the image above. Sandals float across the landscape. They're glowing. Ominous. The sharp teeth of metal lurk beneath them. "Please don't feed the escalators," the glowing yellow words read. The whole image looks like an ad for a cheesy horror movie, with more creativity than many presentations from WMATA (remember their recent Office Space-esque snoozer of an online gift shop?). The caution comes as a response to the damaged sandals that WMATA has pulled out of the busted Foggy Bottom escalators, which have created backups and backlashes for several days now. Check out the unaltered image of the sandals here, posted via WMATA's Twitter account.
I like the general spirit of this response. There have been very real issues that have come up with riders' sandals getting stuck in the escalators and creating problems, both before and of course now with the ones at Foggy Bottom. The normal Metro response would, in many cases, be to repeat company warnings about why sandals are a danger. Metro defeats its criticism by repeating the same, tepid cautions and talking points. It's not a terrible strategy for a big institution such as WMATA. The strategy creates austere credibility but not much in the way of personality.
But they've tried to reverse that trend with recent actions like Metro Forward and this graphic. It's not mind-blowingly hilarious but it's a start. They do include all the usual advice in a short accompanying blog post ("Keep your feet away from the edges"), wisely, but what stands out to me is the photo. Another example is the Metro ads in the stations that caution people against eating on the trains.
Keep the jokes coming, WMATA. It's nice to see your lighter side.