Thames Clippers OOH

Capital commute

  • Client:Thames Clippers
  • Project:Why I Take the Thames

Thames Clippers provide a fast, reliable and comfortable river bus service that’s ideal for London commuters and tourists alike. As the creative partner of Sound, we were tasked with growing commuter numbers by presenting Thames Clippers as an attractive commuting option, as well as promoting the new Royal Wharf Pier. Our disruptive, highly-targeted campaign featured real commuters, making the most of a loyal existing customer base.

Best kept secret

Thames Clippers ferry a loyal population of commuters along the Thames every day, providing a fast, reliable and much more comfortable way to travel, and calling at 23 piers along the river. They offer a cycle- and pet-friendly service with great views, fresh air and even an onboard bar.

Thames Clippers OOH

Getting them on board

Despite an ever-growing roster of call points and the promise of a traffic-free journey, the brand was associated more with tourist trips than with commuting.

Thames Clippers approached Sound with two clear goals. They needed to reassert their status as a viable commuting option and thus increase passenger numbers. In addition, they needed to raise awareness of the newly built Royal Wharf pier, a key draw for potential customers from the newly redeveloped surrounding area in the Royal Docks. Fulfilling both of these required Sound to break the commuting habits of Londoners by challenging and changing their learned behaviour.

Thames Clippers OOH

Talking to London

Sound partners had previously conducted social media research asking locals what they thought of their commute – and the findings were vital in forming the basis of our messaging. They allowed us to identify key pain points where Thames Clippers’ offering could pose a solution. We planned to build these into a compelling, relatable story.

And who better to tell a relatable story than Thames Clippers commuters themselves? The company had a loyal customer base with a genuine appreciation for their product, so our creative needed to make the most of this. Sound sourced a diverse, representative group of customers with different priorities when it came to their commute, to be featured in creative. With a focus on authenticity, we extracted key USPs for Thames Clippers from customer testimonials, forming a disruptive message that focused on why commuters should ‘take the Thames’.

One river, many journeys

With the Royal Wharf pier launch date firmly in place, time was tight to produce a creative campaign that spoke directly to London’s commuter crowd. The first step was to organise and execute a photo shoot starring commuters from our focus group. The resulting images felt authentic and fun – overlaid with relatable copy that made the most of customers’ brand advocacy while touching on key product points.

Thanks to Sound’s integrated approach, we were able to offer consistency across a wide range of paid and earned media. And, because we’d featured commuters from across the city, our creative appealed to both mass and targeted audiences.

Our OOH campaign was positioned at a number of commuter hubs close to Thames Clippers piers in both East and West London. Digital ads were served to commuters in the same areas during peak travel times – delivering targeted content through Mobsta.

A social campaign featuring video interviews with commuters was also rolled out, advertorials appeared in local publications, and #ITakeTheThames customised badges were distributed to existing Thames Clippers customers and media.

When it came to targeting Royal Wharf specifically, the campaign featured a door-drop with a tailored offer available to residents of the new development, and a targeted mailer was delivered to prospective customers in the local postcode area.

Thames Clippers OOH

Making a splash

Our creative concept clearly resonated with the target audience. Targets were smashed for each zone during the campaign month, with a massive increase in organic social media engagement on posts featuring our campaign. Sound’s integrated approach ensured our highly-targeted campaign maintained consistency across all channels.


Estimated reach of online earned media


Target audience reached on their daily commute


Increase in passengers boarding at St George Wharf Pier