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semiotics of the bus placard

August 1st, 2008 at 03:34 am

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The day is done. Tomorrow is the first day of vacation, which will be taken up entirely by laundry, cleaning the house, and packing.

But wait. I sat in the back of the bus on my route home, zoning out, listening to tunes, avoiding eye contact and ignoring children misbehavior, all while scanning the bus placards.

Now bus placards are a class specific medium - you see the usual, devoted to the stereotypes of bus riders - the cheap and the poor. Tonight there was the Jobdango placard for the un- and underemployed, the change the world placard for the idealistic underemployed just out of college, the don't-be-an-ass-on-the-bus placards in matching English and Spanish, the alternate forms of transportation placards (on the not-in-your-car bus? Try the not-in-your-car train/amtrak, or even try the not-in-your-car car - the Zipcar). All well and good. The Moneytree payday loan placard fit right in.

But what do I spy? I blinked again.

A condo ad. Interesting. But it gets better. Said condo advertises studios and alcoves(?) for 200K, 1BD/1BA for 300K, 2BD/2BA for 400K, and work lofts for 500K. Notice the irony here? When the buyer shows up and signs and initials, signs and initials, and finally is asked "how did you find out about this condo" is anybody going to really say ... bus placard?

Sure. Big Grin

I do love the fact that they are brazen about the prices. None of this old "prices start at xxxK" to lure you in before you are horribly trapped at the realtor. Brownie points for that. Just a glam upper class placard proudly slumming with the lower and middle.

The piece de la resistance was: the glam condo was a 1/2 placard. Pulling the punch a bit. I can't imagine that even a full size placard costs all that much. If you are selling a series of 1/2 million dollar anything, along with a larger series of slightly cheaper apartments aren't we talking about 30-40 M worth of construction? Spring for the full size bus placard. You're good for it ... if you sell one.

Its almost as if the glam placard is destined to do exactly the opposite of what advertising supposed to: no one swayed by it could do anything about it or would admit to having seen it, and there is the strong possibility that the developers are sending signals that they will have to drop the price.

5 Responses to “semiotics of the bus placard”

  1. Nika Says:

    Around here bus stops have Tiffany and Bvlgari ads as rich people ride them alongside the middle class and the pour.
    It is a traffic-reducing and environmental way of transportation. I don't see why some people think there is some kind of stigma attached to public transportation. Everyone would be better off if more people chose that option.

  2. baselle Says:

    Ah, but the bus stop ads generally face the street, as do the ads on the large placards outside the bus.

    I agree that a few rich people take public transportation, but even more walk along the street ... to get to their parked car.

    Now if I see Tiffany and Bvlgari ads inside the bus, that would impress me very much. I'll have to look!

  3. frugaltexan75 Says:

    From my bus riding experience (doing the rider surveys) I certainly would've been surprised to have seen an ad for condos. There were lawyer ads, Health center ads, etc., but definitely not anything on the scale of a condo ad.

  4. Caoineag Says:

    Our light rail system advertises condos in the light rail cars. A lot of people like buying condos near light rails for convenience. The buses don't tend to have as much higher level advertising because less people use individual buses whereas the light rail tunnels through massive numbers of people.

    Also buses do have more of a stigma but I think that is starting to change thanks to the light rail expansion.

  5. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Thank you, Charles Mudede.

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