The brief

Summer 2021 and the railways were suffering. Passenger numbers had plummeted as consecutive lockdowns resulted in a prolonged period of people avoiding public transport. We needed to get people back out into the world and remind them of the joy of train travel.

What we did 

Our strategy was based on one simple question: when is travelling by train at its most joyous? Upon speaking to leisure travellers, there was an obvious answer: Weddings – a time full of fun, optimism and love, when travelling with others elevates the experience.

But weddings had also suffered massively due to the pandemic – with almost half a million weddings being cancelled. Which begged the question – what could we do to help? 

Our answer was simple: We’d hold the ultimate joyous occasion, a wedding, on a train. What could be more romantic than getting hitched onboard an iconic Pendolino train at 125mph? And thus the #MarriageCarriage was born.

150 couples competed for the wedding to be held on a round trip from London to Birmingham. The entries were judged by Jane Fry, Editor-in-Chief of Affinity Weddings Magazine and Avanti West Coast Train Manager, Paul Austin.

Amidst all the entries, one stood out: Our winners, Laura and Jane, had a fascinating backstory, having both bonded online over a shared love of trains and video games. They had even travelled on the West Coast Mainline together the first time they met in person and it was clear this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity meant the world to them.

With wedding essentials such a cake and flowers sourced from small businesses along the route, the marriage carriage was ready to depart. And to ensure that the Avanti brand spirit came through in every touchpoint, we even had an Avanti train manager, Peter, who used to be a clergyman to oversee the ceremony.

Mischief Attention Levers

Personal 

The story of our happy couple was relatable to  many thousands of couples  –  and wedding guests – who had also had weddings cancelled or postponed

Surprising

Who ever would have expected for there to be a real life wedding on a fully operational commuter train?!

Emotional

Weddings are emotional at the best of times, add in a long wait and brilliant couple and there was not a dry eye in the house!

Impact

600+ pieces of coverage, 80% uplift in social media mentions, 10% uplift in unprompted  brand awareness and 93% increase in share of voice vs competitors. Now that’s joyful.