|(Photo: The New York Times)|
In response to a story on the new advertising scheme, I wrote this letter to the New York Times. They didn't publish it--probably a case of professional jealousy--so I am presenting it here. Was there ever a time the MTA needed The Cardvaark more than now?
To the Editor:
The M.T.A.'s introduction this week of MetroCards with advertising on
front and back reminds us of how taken for granted the card itself has
become. When the M.T.A. first rolled out the MetroCard in 1993, it
worried that riders would not give up their beloved tokens and might
even quit the system altogether. They commissioned a Metropolitan
Marketing Plan, now buried in the M.T.A. archives in Brooklyn, which
envisioned all kinds of public events for the kick-off. The planners
even created a mascot for the new card, The Cardvaark, described in
the plan as a " high-tech, yet lovable creature who can 'sell' the
card." When Newsday's subway reporter ridiculed the creature as "a
dumb-looking, snout-nosed, big-eared, bug-eyed, round-cheeked,
pot-bellied, card-pitching mascot," M.T.A. chairman Peter Stangl
killed off The Cardvaark for good. As it turned out, the M.T.A. didn't
need to "sell" the MetroCard after all, and now the card is selling us
on health insurance and the Gap.
PS. Attached image is the sketch from the Metropolitan Marketing Plan.