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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)


The department that deals with passenger travel publicity is one of the youngest branches of the railway industry, but, in these days of keen competition, clever advertising campaigns are retaining to rail much business which otherwise would be lost, as well as securing for railways the world over a large volume of new traffic. There was a time when even educated and experienced railway traffic officers regarded passenger advertising more as a plaything for headquarters than as a practical and worthwhile activity. Nowadays the real value of passenger publicity in all its forms is appreciated to the full by one and all.

To-day, almost every railway of any magnitude possesses its own skilled publicists, who are daily engaged in the arduous, but nevertheless most fascinating task, of luring the traveller to the rail route, alike when on business or pleasure bent. The accomplishments of the Publicity and Advertising Departments of the New Zealand Railways have time and again been noted by railway folk at Home, and the work of these departments must prove of the greatest assistance in the building up of passenger revenues.

Broadly speaking, newspaper advertising forms the backbone of the Home railway passenger advertising campaigns. This form of publicity has proved exceptionally successful, and both national and local publications are employed to carry the railway message to the public. Supplementing press publicity, comes poster advertising, handbill distribution, personal canvassing, and the circulation of holiday literature of suitable character, prior to, and during the summer vacation season. The most successful type of holiday book issued by each of the four Home group railways takes the form of an apartments and holiday guide, describing very briefly the whole of the pleasure resorts on the system, and containing details of the holiday accommodation available thereat. As an instance of the success of this style of publication, in may be noted that of last year's issue of the London and North Eastern Railway's all-line holiday guide, priced at sixpence, some 100,000 copies were sold prior to the opening of the summer vacation season.

The advertising managers of the Home railways are directly responsible to their general managers for the advertising policy of the line. The advertising budget is carefully divided out under different headings, e.g., poster publicity, press advertising, and so on, and frequent review is made of this allocation, in consultation with the passenger traffic managers. Home railway advertising is well directed, attractive and timely. In view of the enormous competition now being faced by the Home lines, the fact that, in a single year, the four group systems sell some 1,300,000,000 passenger ticket, is in itself a tribute to the worth of the elaborate advertising campaigns conducted by the respective publicity departments.