Metro doesn’t always do the best job speaking to its customers, especially when it relies on the notoriously incomprehensible train PA systems. But anyone in D.C. who’s been listening to Pandora radio recently has been hearing Metro’s latest message loud and clear — and probably can’t get it out of their heads.
“Ride Safe” isn’t just the newest WMATA ad campaign. It’s my summer jam, thanks to the musical stylings of marketing director Jawauna Greene, who developed the quartet of crazily catchy jingles.
Inspired by her teenage children’s playlists, she wrote a danceable Katy Perry-ish number and a couple hip-hop ditties (“Metro pro. You know all the routes. Blue, green and red, man, you got no doubts.”). Greene also penned a diva-worthy ballad that she got her mom — a retired Baltimore police officer who sings with her church choir — to record for free.
Other than being awesome, the four songs remind riders that they can prevent common accidents by paying attention to where they’re going and not doing anything stupid, such as holding train doors.
Although there aren’t any stats yet showing injuries on the decline, it’s clear people have been listening to the lyrics since the songs debuted on Pandora in May for a 13-week test.
Most Metro ads don’t get any response at all, Greene says, so it was gratifying to see tweets referencing “Ride Safe” immediately. One random dude has even made a YouTube video of his cover rendition of Greene’s mom’s performance: “I’ve got people to see, so many places to go. Whether work or for play, rushing for the Metro. I dash for my bus, I run for my train. I remind myself, girl, you’d better ride safe.”
Everyone also better prepare to hear more of these tunes, even folks who don’t listen to Pandora. Greene says Metro’s success with Internet radio has persuaded her to roll out the ads in traditional media markets — and to compose more musical messages. An upcoming youth campaign seems like a natural extension for the program, Greene adds, noting that there are countless genres for her to explore.
“Opera is always out there,” she jokes. (I think.)
Don’t hold your breath waiting for WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel to chime in, however. He turned down Greene’s offer to sing backup, although he’s a fan of the concept. If you haven’t watched it yet, Stessel recommends cueing up the similarly catchy “Dumb Ways to Die,” an animated music video from an Aussie subway system that went viral last fall.
It features a cartoon character that totters off the edge of a train station platform while rocking out to headphones. Maybe I should remind myself, girl, not to do the same thing.