Issue Communications

Demonstrating Community Impact

With the American Public Transportation Association


01 / Background

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) hired GMMB in 2008 to develop and implement a communications and advocacy campaign that would promote the benefits of public transportation and position it with Congressional leaders to encourage greater investment in public transportation through reauthorizing robust, long-term Federal transit and highway legislation.

2008 - 2015
Advertising / Digital / Creative Content / Movement Building / Public Relations

02 / Strategy

GMMB created a new integrated messaging/brand platform and advertising campaign that supports reauthorization by showing the broader economic value that public transportation brings to communities.


03 / Work

GMMB developed and tested a set of core messages to ensure that Congress and the administration understood the importance of increased investment in public transportation. Messaging emphasized the role public transportation plays by positioning it as part of the solution to a struggling economy, as well as overdependence on foreign oil, global warming, and traffic congestion. These messages, supported by a theme that is both positive and forward-looking, “Public Transportation Takes Us There,” became the foundation of GMMB’s communications strategy. This helped lead to a two-year bill being passed in 2010.

Leading up to the next reauthorization in 2012, GMMB built on the “Public Transportation Takes Us There” foundation and created a new campaign to show the great economic value that public transportation has on local communities:  increasing property values, as centers for business development, and as the lynchpin for livable and walkable communities. The economic message, supported by a theme that is both positive and forward-looking―“Where Public Transportation Goes, Communities Grow”―resonated significantly in research and became the foundation of the ongoing branding campaign.


04 / Results

In December 2015, the House and Senate passed long-term transit and highway reauthorization. There were many organizations working to make it happen. But there is also no doubt that APTA’s research driven, cross-platform advertising and advocacy campaign helped make a big difference.

The advertising campaign consisted of print, digital, and radio ads in Washington, D.C. and key congressional districts around the country. When measuring brand lift, ads exceeded industry average by nearly 20 percentage points. Overall, the advertising program generated 24.9 million impressions and brought 147,089 visitors to the publictransportation.org website, a 500 percent increase in visits to APTA’s legislative and advocacy page.