Home Subway Advertising In an F train’s Jaguar ad, car culture vs. transit culture

In an F train’s Jaguar ad, car culture vs. transit culture

by Benjamin Kabak

While heading from Manhattan to the Double Windsor to enjoy the New York City debut of Bell’s Brewery’s delicious beers, I hopped off the A at Jay St. to catch an arriving Coney Island-bound F train. Lo and behold, it was the rare Jaguar-branded F. I had heard much about this rare creature, and my transit-loving heart skipped a beat as this wrapped train arrived.

Upon alighting at 15th Street-Prospect Park, I snapped a few pictures of the train. It’s a silly bit of advertising, designed to make the MTA some money while appealing to our cultural prejudice against public transit. Even in New York City, the ads proclaim, the Jaguar F type is faster than the Transit Authority’s F train. It’s a silly conceit in New York City where congestion rules the day, and the F, generally, can get a straphanger to his or her destination just as fast as a car at peak hours.

Not everyone is enamored with this ad. When it hit the rails a few weeks ago, Streetsblog accused the MTA of undermining its mission with an ad that insults riders. “One costs around $2 per trip while the other starts at $69,000 — plus taxes, license fees, insurance, parking, gas, and maintenance,” Brad Aaron wrote, “Seriously, who sees this ad and thinks, ‘I believe I’ll trade my MetroCard for a $1,500 a month debt load’? The F train doesn’t have a top speed of whatever, but it can get from 14th Street to Prospect Park with just 12 stops in between. And there’s no battling the horn-honking morass at the toll-free East River bridges.”

I wouldn’t take it that far, and from the inside, I had no idea the train was wrapped in a Jaguar ad. Still, it was something new and different, and it generates some revenue from the cash-starved authority. It won’t cover the cost of providing toll relief across the Verrazano Bridge, and it may be too reminiscent of full-car graffiti bombings in the 1980s. But it’s just an ad. It is but a balm for hurt minds even as car culture and transit culture collide spectacularly.

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John-2 February 11, 2014 - 2:00 am

It may catch a few eyes of the motorists on the Belt Parkway every time that train passes overhead. But I think the pricy nature of the Jaguar and its niche as a sports car is why the MTA really doesn’t feel the wrap is promoting the competition — they might be more discerning about selling ad space if a mass-market family vehicle in the $20,000-$40,000 range was trying to promote itself by putting down public transit.

Brandon February 11, 2014 - 6:36 am

I was thinking it was a bad idea to have it on the train rather than in the station. The moment your train arrives is when youre most happy with the transit system.

David Kahn February 11, 2014 - 8:11 am

If you want to see how transit advertising works well, just visit Hong Kong and Bangkok .. I was amazed at the advertisements in the stations in Bangkok, how well they are integrated with the surroundings, and in Bangkok, most BTS trains are wrapped, and it’s done tastefully in both places.

I both cities, the ads are not only tastefully done, they add to the overall experience.


John February 11, 2014 - 8:46 am

People just are on the lookout for things to complain about. I don’t see anything negative here – the MTA is making money, which is always good.

Bolwerk February 11, 2014 - 8:49 am

I don’t see why we should care. It’s the type of vehicle that is an uber-expensive augmentation for a tiny penis. It never can or will compete with the Subway, and the reverse is true too. This is simply targeting the biases and delusions of the people who are in the market for a Jaguar in the first place.

Hell, if we should care, it’s cause to rejoice. I expect we’ll see more of this in the future, as car culture inevitably wanes. It only tacitly acknowledges that Subway riders aren’t just inner city hoods.

TH February 11, 2014 - 9:54 am

LOL, MTA should run the 160 on the R instead.

SEAN February 11, 2014 - 10:32 am

They do – road one a week & a half ago.

Tower18 February 11, 2014 - 10:20 am

I’m not troubled by this either.

In the advertising world, this type of ad fits in the “branding” side of the spectrum. Nobody will be suddenly convinced to buy a Jaguar after seeing this ad, and Jaguar doesn’t intend for that to happen. That’s not the point. The point is to put Jaguar in your head, make you think a certain thing about Jaguar, and then when and if it is time for you to buy a car, you’re considering a Jaguar.

No automotive ads are actually supposed to drive you to a dealership and buy on the spot. Even the ones screaming about promotional rates and sales are only effective on those people who are already more than halfway through their decision to buy a car, and are most effective on those who are 90% of the way there.

Anyway, I thought this ad was clever and didn’t find it to be taking shots at the train.

Ralfff February 11, 2014 - 4:15 pm


anon_coward February 11, 2014 - 10:30 am

people who own cars actually use the subway, daily. even rich people.
condo close to where i live costs $1 million per unit plus $1200 in fees monthly and a huge underground garage.

and i always see people walk out the door and head into the subway

Herb Lehman February 11, 2014 - 11:42 am

Eh. It’s an odd choice for an ad on a subway, but much better to have an obnoxious ad than a fare hike or a service cut.

SEAN February 11, 2014 - 12:35 pm


Andrew2 February 11, 2014 - 1:02 pm

Which is something you NEVER hear while driving your Jag (or any other car) in the city.

SEAN February 11, 2014 - 2:36 pm

What you will here is expensive tires & rims breaking apart from the numerous potholes from the cavalcade of snow storms since December. Potholes don’t care if a Jaguar or a Kia tire gets destroyed.

Andrew2 February 11, 2014 - 2:55 pm

True, which is why lots of us left NYC altogether 🙂

Nathanael February 16, 2014 - 4:07 pm

Presumably you went to Florida or something. We get just as many potholes in the rural Northeast as you do in the urban Northeast.

Enzo February 11, 2014 - 7:56 pm

“cash-starved authority”–I feel it is only the MTA who claims this. Fare hikes and $1 MetroCard surcharges create a different image.

Ben Fried February 12, 2014 - 11:08 am

I think you misread Brad’s post, Ben. He wasn’t saying that the ad undermines the MTA. He was making a joke to the effect that the MTA successfully swindled Jaguar, since the ad is so ridiculously out of touch with how city people get around.


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