Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Sea Mammal For All Your Transport Needs

Well, this is a first. I'm actually sat in a foreign airport lounge right now, tapping away on my iPod and creating a blog post. I feel very cosmopolitan. Shame it's only Prague*, not some far flung outpost in the South China Sea. (Oh, and I'm on my way home, before you consider burgling my house). I apologise in advance for any Damn You Autocorrect! type errors.

Anyway: I simply had to put finger to virtual keyboard so I could pass judgement on the Walrus.

Walrus. Still doesn't sound right. Maybe it will sound ok by the time I get to the end of this post.

If you weren't aware, Walrus is the name of Merseytravel's new travel smart card, soon to be rolled out across the region. It was launched yesterday at an event I was invited to, but couldn't attend because I was getting rained on in the Czech Republic at the time. (Merseytravel refused to postpone it, which is a poor show).

So, the Walrus. (Nope, not yet). It's black with yellow highlights. It's quite a groovy font. And soon it will be your pass to all sorts of Merseyside transport options, with all season ticket holders converted by next year and a pay as you go version implemented by 2013. This is Liverpool's Oyster card, and I couldn't be more excited if Russell Tovey burst naked into my bedroom with a bootleg copy of the next Bond film and a litre of Absolut vodka. Alright, maybe not that excited.

The smart card was one of the best things to happen to public transport ticketing in London, and I'm really happy that Merseytravel are spearheading its roll out in the regions. The PTE already has a strong identity and corporate involvement, so it's a natural to implement it. Plus they've picked a technology for the system which seems future-proof, ready for any national ticketing scheme which is introduced.

But... that name.

You know what it sounds like to me? A leftover from the dot-com boom, when everything had to have a cutesy name. "I know we're called International Global Packaging Solutions in the real world, but we need a memorable online presence. Hence, lovablemonkfish.com!".

Walrus just doesn't do it for me. Do we really want this new, exciting, futuristic innovation associated with a big fat mammal that spends its afternoons wallowing on seashores? Then kills penguins [citation needed]? A Walrus's most notable feature is its comedy moustache. I thought Scousers were trying to get away from that sort of stereotyping.

Plus there's I Am The Walrus. More bloody Beatles tie ins. I'd have preferred the Prudence, myself. Or Lovely Rita, because it means you don't have to see a meter maid at all. I'm reaching, I know, but that's because I'm a normal person who lives on Merseyside and who quite likes the Beatles; you know, the kind of person who'll be using the Walrus. Not one of those Japanese tourists doing peace signs outside the Beatles Story.

I'm sure it's been focus grouped to death. I bet there's a massive PowerPoint presentation somewhere at Hatton Gardens, listing Walrus' marketability to users (particularly the 18-34 demographic). I bet that PowerPoint presentation featured both the words 'fresh' AND 'funky'. I bet in a couple of years time wives will be calling "darling, have you seen my Walrus?" up the stairs to their husbands, and no-one will laugh. I just can't see it right now. I feel a bit like I'm watching that episode of The Apprentice where Philip suggested "Pantsman" and no-one sent him to the corner and told him to try harder.

Yep, I've got all the way to the end of the post and I'm still not convinced by Walrus. Nice product. Shame about the brand.

*Don't worry; there are full and indepth blog posts about my holiday antics to come. (You could at least PRETEND to care).


Robert said...

You typed all that on your iPod? Now that is dedication.

Scott Willison said...

Never underestimate how tedious Prague Airport is.

Andy Howe said...

I think it's a rubbish name, but I guess (via advertising focus groups at J Walter Thompson most probably) however it kind of sticks in your mind, (A Walrus!!!!) the font & design are cool though I'd agree.

What would you have called it?

Gavin Kincade said...

Well, I'm interested in reading about your holiday antics in Prague, so I'll look forward to those posts.

I think you write interesting and amusing stuff, and I've been enjoying this blog for years now.

Nice new header as well, and it means that I can get a good look at the laughing train. What an odd image that is. Is the businessman on the platform really wearing a bowler hat? Was that a common sight in Liverpool in the 70s?

Scott Willison said...

Bless you Gavin. And I'd like to know how many bowler hats were worn in Liverpool in the 70s as well - I'm guessing it may be as many as zero.

The Walrus is sort of growing on me I suppose: I'm getting used to it. If it had been up to me, Andy, I'd have perhaps chosen something a bit more upbeat than a walrus - something a bit more exciting, like a Leopard or a Shark. Using your Shark card would have been a lot more fun.

Andy Howe said...

Shark Leopard Card sound good to me :-), it's not going to be fully operational until Summer 2013! (there is a guy at work that does smartcards, so checked out the breakdown), be good when it's fully operational, not sure about the name, the power of the Beatles I guess :-)

Anonymous said...

Andy, I agree it's been done because of the Beatles connection, but can't agree that 'Shark Leopard' would work - think of the lawsuits from Apple about it coming too close to 'their' naming policy!

And Scott - it's Hatton GardeN, no plural ;)