Don’t get us wrong, agency life is awesome. We get to work with brilliant clients and creative geniuses, and there’s always teacakes in the cupboard.

One thing’s for sure – we are ideas people. We love nothing more than filling up our coffee cups, gathering on beanbags and having a good ideation session (after a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets to write on the whiteboard).

However, sometimes ideas just aren’t meant to be for whatever reason – budget, resource, timescale. We get excited about ideas and pitch them day-in and day-out, but sometimes we have to accept that it’s not going to happen and we talk about what might have been over beers the following Friday.

Enter First Bus. They asked us to pitch to be their sole creative agency earlier this year and we were excited to give them the MadeBrave story. As part of the pitch process, they wanted to know how we would approach two campaigns: Kids Go Free and the launch of their new buses. But the thing is, a lot of who we are is about being really creative with our ideas — and any potential client needs to know this before they jump down the rabbit hole with us. So on Pitch Day, we went into First HQ armed with our deadliest weapons: top-notch ideas, ready to dazzle.

One of those ideas, we appreciated was a bit ‘out-there’. First Bus had told us they planned to launch 75 new buses in Glasgow. Now, some agencies might decide on a few printed announcements, billboards, maybe the odd radio ad and stop there … not us. We wanted to build a giant Hot Wheels-style toy box with a new bus inside, and sit it in George Square. 

First Bus’ mission was to become more customer-focused and as part of this, they had invested in new buses to deliver a better, easier, cleaner travel experience to their customers. This was a huge moment in First Bus’ history, something that had to be celebrated in an eye-catching way to capture the imagination of the public. And what would attract more attention than a giant box with a shiny new bus inside?

 

Here’s the Bus In A Box scamp we created for the First Bus Pitch. Pretty cool, right?

As we said, it was quite an ‘out-there’ idea and we weren’t sure if First Bus would go for it. But  (much to our delight) they were totally into it! It was exactly what this campaign called for – eye-catching, exciting and memorable. Finally we were going to be able to live every kids dream, to shrink down until we were small enough to fit inside our toy box and see what the interior of a HotWheels vehicle is really like. In this case, the vehicle just happened to be a state-of-the-art, low emissions bus with plush leather seats, free Wifi AND USB ports to charge our phones with. We were psyched to help First Bus show it off!

So, fast forward three months of detailed planning and Bus in a Box Day had finally arrived. We were already awake before our alarms went off and caught a bus (no joke) to George Square to see the finished product. We thought the scamp was cool, but in the words of Ross from Friends, IT’S JUST LIKE WE DREAMED IT! See for yourselves.

 

One thing that got us really excited about this project is the experiential element. The non-stop pouring rain that Glasgow faced that day? All part of the experience (in fact, our Operations Director Stephen was there for the whole build, battling a yellow weather warning and pulling an all-nighter, what a champ)! Not to mention, it was a world first. Companies , like Ford, have put cars in boxes before, but never buses. So essentially, we’re unofficial record-breakers now.

George Square was absolutely buzzing with commuters stopping to take pictures and ask questions. The lovely folk from First Bus were on hand to chat to passersby about the new bus features, Capital Scotland were there (hello, Des Clarke!) to open the new bus to the public (it’s just as well there was live music to entertain them, there was a loooooooong queue!) and the Glasgow Warriors even stopped by to hand out freebies.

And of course, we were there to create on-the-day social content in real time. With our meticulously planned Excel spreadsheet of the day’s order in hand, our team captured the opening of the new bus Live on Facebook, extensively covered the day through Instagram Stories, and even had a videographer there to create a film of the event  (big shout out to Glasgow Chamber of Commerce for letting us use their boardroom as an editing suite/shelter from the rain!) And in the few short days since the new bus campaign launched, we have generated over 100k impressions and 97k engagements for First Bus on Facebook alone, with closer to half a million engagements across all channels. Not too shabby! We also launched the landing page for First New Buses, which was expertly created by our talented digital team.

 

Yep, this was no ordinary bus launch, it was ‘Full of More’, our tag-line for all First Bus campaigns, emphasising that First Bus pack a lot more into their service than just getting you from A to B. We’ve always been the ‘thinking outside the box’ type, but this time we got to build our own, all thanks to our client First Bus, who believed in our idea and trusted us to bring it to life. This one was a true agency-client collaboration. We think Stephen Weir sums it up pretty well: 

“From concepts to build, our fantastic team couldn’t help but drive each other on to finish the job, to see all the weeks of planning come together in the final hours, just as the sun peered over the rooftops of a still Glasgow skyline, it was really special.”

And as Account Director Emma Strain points out, it’s lovely to have a client on board who is willing to be as brave as we are:

“It’s a great time for First Bus, they have big ambitions for the brand and are brave in their choices.  We’re very lucky to be with them on that journey.”


Psst – down here! Want to find out how we can help your brand, MadeBrave-style? Get in touch!