Gatesman Helps Pace Suburban Bus Stray from Their Lane with Musical Anniversary Campaign

Ad Agency Celebrates 10 Years of Pace’s Bus-on-Shoulder Program with First-Ever Original Song, “Rocking the Shoulder”
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CHICAGO - Nov. 22, 2021 – Award-winning advertising agency, Gatesman, today announced the launch of an inventive musical campaign with long-time, Chicago area client, Pace Suburban Bus to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the transit agency’s Bus-on-Shoulder program. The “Rocking the Shoulder” campaign taps into the advertising world’s always-on trend of using music to connect with audiences on a more personal level. While the advertising world is no stranger to music creation, it is uncommon territory for a transit agency - territory Gatesman led Pace into boldly and confidently with the unexpected production of an original song to capture the euphoric feeling of soaring past traffic during the rush hour commute.

“The Bus-on-Shoulder program is such a unique offering to Chicagoland commuters, so we knew we needed to have a similarly unique celebration for its 10th anniversary,” said Rocky Donahue, Executive Director, Pace Suburban Bus. “We never imagined we’d try our hand at creating music, but our collaboration with Gatesman on this original song was a fun and rewarding experience. We hope our riders like it and that it generates some attention for our tremendously successful bus service.”  

Pace, one of the country’s largest transit agencies, has been Rocking the Shoulder of Chicago’s expressways since 2011, providing faster rides for commuters while also removing cars from the region’s roadways. These Express routes bypass traffic by riding on the highway’s shoulder. After 10 years of service, Pace remains one of the only transit providers in the nation to offer these innovative routes to riders, an accomplishment worthy of an epic celebration fit for a rock star. To deliver on this, Gatesman engineered a multi-faceted anniversary campaign centered around a Spotify playlist of Traffic Jams, made up of 59 songs perfect for cruising – one for every minute the average Chicagoan spends in traffic. The hand-picked songs range from music legends like David Bowie and The Beatles, to rulers of today’s hit radio like Maroon 5 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with each track aptly translating the way it feels to cruise on the open road. Many of the songs boast driving-inspired lyrics and titles, but one song stands out. Pace’s original song, Rocking the Shoulder, debuted on the playlist today and has solidified Traffic Jam as a music genre. 

"We recognized that one of the ways people make the most of a traffic jam is by jamming to music, and through Pace's Bus-on-Shoulder, riders have the benefit of avoiding bumper-to-bumper traffic, that was a behavior we wanted to tap into,” said Mark DiPietro, VP, creative director, Gatesman. "We are seeing other brands leverage music in new ways lately, whether it's TikTok sounds or challenging consumers to make musical tracks, so instead of writing an ad about this anniversary, we wrote a song about it. Our partners at Pace recognized this as another way to improve rider experience and the ultimate Traffic Jam was born.” 

Passengers on Bus-on-Shoulder vehicles can now access the playlist with the original song via bus wraps, window clings and other in-bus advertising using QR-code technology, while billboards along those same routes will inspire all drivers to push play – even those not lucky enough to be traveling on the shoulder.

“We think it will be a song that people can’t help but play again and again,” said Ian Young, associate creative director, Gatesman. "With enormous client trust and phenomenal Chicago talent, we made something special that invites commuters to have a little fun with Pace—all while encouraging them to choose a different kind of traffic jam."

While riders who choose Pace’s Bus-on-Shoulder routes can depend on their time in traffic decreasing, the playlist of 59 songs will only continue to grow. Pace will be updating the playlist throughout the campaign with song suggestions from riders who submit their recommendations using #RockingTheShoulder on social media. Gatesman encourages people to follow along on the Pace Facebook and Twitter accounts, and to listen to the Traffic Jams playlist available on Spotify.

About Gatesman:

With offices in Pittsburgh and Chicago, Gatesman offers expertise in strategy/branding, advertising, public relations, social media, digital and analytics. Gatesman is a partner in AMIN Worldwide, an alliance of over 50 independent marketing agencies, and IPREX, a global communications network. Gatesman acquired Quest Fore in 2014 and Noble Communications in 2017.

About Pace:

Pace Suburban Bus is the premier suburban transit provider, safely and efficiently moving people to work, school, and other regional destinations. Pace's family of public transportation services offer affordable and environmentally responsible transit options for the residents of 284 municipalities in Cook, Will, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. The backbone of Chicago's suburbs, Pace serves tens of thousands of daily riders. One of the largest transit agencies in North America, Pace covers 3,677 square miles, an area nearly the size of the state of Connecticut and about 15 times the size of the City of Chicago.

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