York Buses Communications Pre-Campaign Testing


“There’s never been a better time to get the bus”

Aims of the research

City of York Council was looking to implement an advertising campaign to increase bus usage amongst residents. They commissioned Front Ideas to deliver the advertising campaign with Qa providing insight support. The overall aim of the research was to:

‘Test a series of pre-campaign creative advertisements with users and non-users of York bus service and report back on refinements that could be made to help make the campaign a success’.

And the specific objectives were to:

  • Gauge key triggers and barriers to accessing York’s bus service
  • Understand attitudes towards and experiences of using York buses
  • Test reactions to the pre-campaign advertisements
  • Reveal what residents felt the advertisements communicated
  • Recommend where creative advertisements could be refined to maximise impact

Undertaking the research

bus-shopping-smallWe conducted six focus groups with a mixture of users and non-users of York’s bus service.

Focus groups were the chosen method of engagement as in our experience, they are an ideal method for testing visual marketing campaign material, as respondents can debate the positive and negative aspects and make suggestions as to how they could be improved in order to have a greater impact.

We conducted the focus groups in two different areas of the city, the aim being to ensure we reached a mixture of residents spanning a range of life stages, demographics and post codes that had access to varying bus stops. We also recruited a mixture of: regular and infrequent users; those using the bus for leisure and work related purposes; and non and lapsed users of the service. Respondents were presented with five creative advertisements and asked for their reactions and then to provide a critical evaluation of each of them as well as the campaign overall.

Key Findings

Our report recommended how the initial creative designs could be altered, added, removed and improved in order to communicate improvements being made to buses, encourage usage and demonstrate that York wants to be seen as a bus proud city. Front made a series of changes to the final advertising creative following our advice.


Bus use in York has increased by 5% since the campaign was launched in 2014.

For more information please contact:

Richard Bryan Managing Director

[raw][/raw]  01904 632039

[raw][/raw]  richard.bryan@qaresearch.co.uk