Over the last 10 days, I’ve been in London assisting my Mum with the care of my Dad who is recovering from double hip replacement surgery. While here, I’ve enjoyed the ease of mass transportation using the London Underground, buses and most recently, the Barclays Bicycle. These bicycles captivated me for the brilliance in the marketing. If you’re in central London, these bicycles are EVERYWHERE. Londoners and visitors alike are riding these bicycles all over the city advertising the Barclays brand. So much so, that as I sit here and think of what banks I’ve seen in London, Barclays is the only one that comes immediately to mind.
Currently, there are over 6,000 of these branded bikes with more on the way. With the Olympics less than a year away, the brand awareness of Barclays is in place for the hundreds of thousands of visitors that will be arriving for the games. Brilliant right? Maybe not……
Let’s take a closer look……..
If I’m the Barclays Bank marketing exec, I’d be a little frustrated by now and a little embarrassed. Having attached the corporate brand along with over £25 million pounds (US$40.7 million buckaroos) over five years, these bicycles are not without their share of problems. In fact, if I were going to attach my corporate logo to something, I’d better be assured that the service is going to work near flawlessly. Have a look at my most recent experience below.
(This is about the third time this has occurred since I’ve been using these bikes this week and apparently, I’m not the only one experiencing this issue).
IS THIS REALLY A BIG DEAL?
You better believe it is! Here’s why…..These bikes are associated with one company (not the transportation department responsible for these - TfL) - Barclays. Currently, the view of most banks around the world do not convey positive feelings to consumers who use them as there is much inefficiency and crookery. (Is crookery a word? Doubtful, but I’m rolling with it anyway).
Having had a negative experience, I’m associating this negativity to the company that has branded themselves all over this service. Furthermore, you have to be pretty smart to figure out how to actually hire these bikes. When my mum and I first tried to rent one, we could not figure it out for the life of us. We stuck in my credit card and carefully read the instructions to no avail. We asked four different people for assistance and with their help, still couldn’t figure it out - we were completely dumbfounded. Finally, the fifth person we asked helped us immediately. The directions are unclear with how to rent these bikes with a credit card…..not intuitive at all. Do you know how I feel about these
bikes BARCLAYS BIKES…..annoyed!
Conceptual Idea - 10 on the idea! Less pollution, a public service and inexpensive for the end user. What’s not to love?
Mass Marketing - 10 on the idea - what a great way to get your brand really out there! Better yet, you are using customers as marketers at the same time! LOVE THIS!
Implementation - 6 If the problems aren’t ironed out, the good feeling the marketing campaign is supposed to create is tarnished. Right now, my experience with the bicycles don’t give me the warmest feelings. I’m giving it a six because when the bicycles do work, it’s SO convenient. The one positive is that I now know to begin my journey earlier in the event the bike station is not properly functioning.
The paramount issue I see with Barclays’ involvement with this marketing campaign (and its £25,000,000 investment) is that their image is in the hands of someone else. If the company responsible for this bicycle system under-performs, then that poor performance carries near equal weight on the company associated with these bicycles. I sincerely hope that the service given at Barclays is better than the service I receive using the Barclays bicycles!