Your MTA Card Will Now Look Like a Mini-Billboard!

gap-metrocard.jpeg
MTA
On January 25th, 1999, the first MetroCard vending machines were installed at subway stations across the five boroughs. Within a few months, the subway token was phased out of circulation as the simple swipe replaced the insert-coin-here system. We've had these shiny MetroCards ever since -- whether they're a single, weekly, monthly, or one you just always carry around for good luck, the gleaming yellow certificate with the blue MTA insignia handed you a swipe to see the city.

And, now, they're going to look like cut-out coupons thanks to a new redesign, brought to you by the MTA (and the Gap . . . and Domino's . . . and whatever other company can get a solid bid in for that pocket-ready ad space).

Yesterday, the first of the MTA's new branded MetroCards made an appearance at a few stations in Manhattan, like Union Square and the 34th Street stations. As seen on the right, it is a blue card with a Gap slogan ("Be Bright NYC") and includes the instruction to visit its new flagship store on 34th and Broadway. 

So this is what modernity looks like.

This isn't the first time the MTA has sold its card for advertising means; in the past, the back of your card occasionally (and strangely) had deals for affordable healthcare. Except this move to let companies plaster their ads all over the front of the MetroCard space was different. It was financial plea for a desperate agency; even with the highest ridership ever last year, the MTA is cash-strapped in the face of the city-wide deficit. 

And, apparently, it's working: After the front-side branding announcement came in July, companies are phoning in to the MTA like crazy, trying to get a space seen by millions of New Yorkers every morning, afternoon and night. So, in terms of advertising opportunity, the MetroCard is a gold mine. Just think about the visibility a company can get with it: It has the consumer punch of a subway advertisement except it stays with New Yorkers above ground as well. 

For any company, why would you not want your product in the hands of these swipers? In businesstalk, it makes sense. And there has to be something in this piece about the move being symbolic of the Era of Bloomberg -- tangibility tainted by commercialization or the whole idea of making everything in this metropolis into a packaged, sellable product.

Also, word on the street is that coupons and giveaways are to follow. You can take the Q downtown and get half off on organic peanut butter, all at the exact same time! Now, that's retail innovation.

But what about the nostalgia? Some might argue that the MetroCard is a piece of New York history. And it totally is. It might not be as culturally significant as the Greek coffee cup, but it is definitely recognizable by almost everyone in this damn city. Even though it's hard to actually measure that kind of thing, it's even harder to say that the MetroCard is not an emblem of Gotham.

However, the selling of this space can also spark innovation. You can blame companies for making everything into a billboard, but, hey, sometimes that can lead to a little creativity. The drab yellow and blue MetroCard now can be spiced up a bit by, as Mitt Romney likes to say, "unleashing the American spirit of entrepreneurship." Or something like that.

Just enjoy your new ticket to ride/buy.

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]


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12 comments
sxg282
sxg282

If it keeps costs down for the commuter then go for it.

TainoBrigs
TainoBrigs

@VoiceStreet I don't mind ads-What pisses me off is that the money being paid for those ads will be misused. Thank you MTA

LeoJTravis10
LeoJTravis10

@coldmilk maybe mostly because people hate ads that ruin a user experience.

SadieLaPierre
SadieLaPierre

@RachelCappucci yeah I saw that too. -_- Only 10% of them have it though i think so hopefully ours stay classic.

jonastheprince
jonastheprince

@PDotMartin As long as theres no fair hike, i'm with it.

coldmilk
coldmilk

@LeoJTravis10 besides I’d rather have more ads I can ignore than a $2.50 subway fair with no balances

coldmilk
coldmilk

@LeoJTravis10 it’s not like the subway isn’t already plastered with ads, plus then I can keep better track of the age of my Metro Cards

PDotMartin
PDotMartin

@jonastheprince It would be great if they used the ad revenue to subsidize the fair rates but no chance that happens.

LeoJTravis10
LeoJTravis10

@coldmilk Subways are fine, but when you mess with someone's wallet bag, not good.

coldmilk
coldmilk

@LeoJTravis10 eh, just put your MetroCard behind your credit card or free sandwich punch card or something

coldmilk
coldmilk

@LeoJTravis10 eh, just out your MetroCard behind your credit card or free sandwich punch card or something

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