Behind the idea

When BC Ferries president & CEO David Hahn joined the company two years ago, he immediately set out to establish a much stronger customer focus.

When BC Ferries president & CEO David Hahn joined the company two years ago, he immediately set out to establish a much stronger customer focus.

The journey began when his crew enlisted the help of DDB Canada, whose first task was to chat with employees and management to ‘find common ground and determine how to position the brand,’ says Michael Allabarton, account director and planner on the business.

‘Everyone understood there was a functional component, but we didn’t know what BC Ferries meant emotionally to people who rely on it. We did focus groups and where we landed was, BC Ferries has a pivotal role in one’s ability to work and travel. It enables West Coast life. That’s how we positioned the brand – ‘life on the coast.”

However, ad dollars are limited at Victoria-based BC Ferries, so DDB is ‘bringing the brand to life’ on vessels, in terminals and in communications. ‘The ferries carry 22 million passengers a year – that’s a big audience,’ points out Allabarton.

The agency helped redesign the interior of the new Spirit of British Columbia flagship, which set sail in March. This included revamping the food and beverage services – even pitching in to work on flow-through in the restaurant and café – and inviting Susan Point, a local Coast Salish artist to create two motifs for the exterior of the upgraded Pacific Buffet, as well as the new Seawest Lounge.

DDB was instrumental in the creation of the lounge, a quiet area where travellers can enjoy a cup of coffee and get some work done, as well as a kids area, where youngsters can watch movies and play. And terminals have been refitted with soft wood hues and plasma TVs.

‘It’s the first step in improving the environment of [Ferries],’

says Allabarton.