Out with the SubTalk, in with the newBy
On my way to the Jay St.-MetroTech ribbon-cutting yesterday, I hopped on a Manhattan-bound 3 train at Grand Army Plaza and found myself in a car surrounded by unfamiliar placards. Instead of the regular SubTalk signs discussing various goings-on at the MTA, I was face-to-face with this sign. Identical to the example atop this post, it said “Improving, Non-Stop” and was clearly a redesign of the MTA’s house ads.
When I arrived at Jay St., I had a chance to quiz Jay Walder and Paul Fleuranges, the MTA’s Senior Director of Corporate and Internal Communications, on the changes. The new signs have been designed to explain a mix of messages to riders with a focus on highlighting, as Walder said, “things we’ve done this year and improvements we’ve made.”
Graphically, the signs are meant to be simpler than the old SubTalk signs. The top is calmer, with more white space, while the MTA bullet, minimized on the old version, has been restored to a primary spot at the top. The website address is added subtly below the bullet. For the ribbon across the bottom, the new signs borrow the strip map stylings that are prominent on the cover of the new subway map.
Fleuranges and I spoke about what will be on the signs. Some of them — such as the one above which you can click to enlarge — feature general messages about the need to improve the system. Another thanks the MTA’s employees for their hard work. Others focus on bus lanes, the changes made to Select Bus Service and the arrival of the countdown clocks throughout the subway system. Fleuranges said that Transit is unveiling nine or ten new signs this weekend with more to come over the next couple of months.
The long-running SubTalk ads debuted in 1993 and were often in the news. For years, the rotating ads included a popular series called Poetry in Motion, but that was canceled and replaced with the Train of Thought ads in mid-2008. According to Fleuranges, SubTalk hasn’t been officially canceled; for now it’s “on haitus.” The Train of Thought ads though are “on the way out.”
In addition to spots in subway cars, the “Improving Non-Stop” ads will pop up at construction sites as well. On the way back to Park Slope from Downtown Brooklyn, I spotted one at Smith-9th Sts. It looks a little something like this:
The idea here is to present riders with the same look and same type of messaging as the in-car ads features. After nearly two decades, it was time for a rebranding.