Talk about a captive audience. Transit systems across the globe are increasingly installing monitors to help boost ad revenue, while also giving commuters something to stare at besides their neighbor’s newspaper. The TTC, Toronto, Canada’s mass transit system, has spiced up its current offering of local news programming and advertising in its subway stops thanks to Decode Entertainment. Dudson’s 15-second shorts debuted on TV screens installed on the subterranean platforms last March.
The completed 25-episode CGI series created by Nathan Jurevicius stars a goofy-looking three-eyed character who turns normal daily events into weird and funny adventures. Dudson was delivered to Toronto’s transit system via its OneStop network screens, and the four-year deal will see an ep run every five minutes on the TTC subway system, potentially reaching one million commuters each day. Interested viewers can also download the shorts onto their mobiles and blog about the eps on www.dudson.tv.
Beth Stevenson, Decode’s partner, says the prodco approached the transit system after receiving some inspiration from Agogo’s Steve Ching. He set up a similar deal for his Jack & Marcel series of shorts on Hong Kong’s subways. With transit being its only port of call, she says Ching built a substantial licensing campaign based on the animated shorts about two years ago. Although Dudson started its life as a line of exclusive toys in Asia, Decode’s plan is to create 90 shorts, develop a full-on 11-minute TV series for a potential 2007 launch, and then return the focus to merchandising. ‘When we’re walking in the broadcaster’s door, we’re there with short-form content already made and ready for mobile or for any other platforms broadcasters are interested in exploring,’ she says.
With the television industry focusing its efforts on reaching as many screens as possible, Decode sees this as more of a traditional broadcast deal than a marketing effort. But there will be a highly visible campaign to get commuters to pay attention to the subway TVs at the end of August and beginning of September; just around the time students are preparing to return to school. Some of Toronto’s buses and streetcars will feature wrap-around advertising, and bus shelters will promote the series to transport takers above-ground.