Amtrak debuted a video ad campaign Thursday, hoping to attract air and road travelers to the rails.
Titled "Break the travel quo," the four 30-second videos created by FCB Global focus on the headaches of traveling with Amtrak's competitors, from highway traffic to Wi-Fi to baggage. The campaign launches amid flat national rail ridership, with Amtrak reporting just above 30 million passengers for the last six years.
"As soon as you say 'train' people shut down," FCB Chief Creative Office Ari Halper said in a statement. "We had to find a Trojan Horse through their defenses, which is why we masqueraded as the perfect airline. In many ways, that's exactly what we are, just without the wings."
The agency was also behind Amtrak's TV campaign in 2015, building a series of videos and a social media presence around the hashtag "AmtrakStories." That push featured spots during the fall television season, as well as digital distribution on video services such as YouTube and Hulu.
"This is much more overtly asking people to consider the train, over car or air travel," an FCB representative told CNBC when comparing the two ad campaigns.
Robert Puentes, CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a think tank in Washington, said the campaign appears to be aimed at discretionary travelers in the Northeast, where Amtrak has its strongest presence.
"But without huge upgrades it's hard to think about an increase in ridership because you can't squeeze any more trains on the existing infrastructure," Puentes said. He added that the recent "summer of hell" repairs at New York's Penn Station was a step in the right direction, but that more "improvement to Penn Station and the surrounding Hudson River area" are seriously needed.