New posters ask for respect for South Western Railway workers

The campaign is a timely reminder to frustrated customers when morale over the state of the UK’s rail services feels at an all-time low

Advertising for the UK’s railways has felt out of step with real life lately. With rail users experiencing constant delays, cancellations and poor customer service, last year’s campaign stating ‘Great journeys start with Trainline’ felt something of a mockery.

In contrast, this new campaign for South Western Railway by St Luke’s in London is sadly more familiar and highlights a serious reality: the fact that the woes of the rail industry has led to workers being subjected to verbal abuse by agitated customers.

The poster campaign, which ironically arrived on a day when many SWR services were disrupted due to a derailed train, aims to remind customers that abuse stays with staff and encourage calmer and kinder behaviour.

The posters emphasise the long-term impact that insulting words can have and was prompted by research into the experiences of SWR colleagues, where workers shared stories of the abuse they had received and how it has affected them and their lives.

The creative sees moments of everyday life, for example, making a cup of tea, preparing soup and taking a shower, interjected by phrases such as ‘you absolute moron’, ‘you dumb cow’, and ‘you stupid old fool’ which have been subtly incorporated into the scenes. The powerful visuals highlight how harsh words said to staff in the heat of the moment can stay with them for a long time afterwards.

“People travel by train for a variety of reasons and sometimes when they are feeling stressed or are wrapped up in their own problems, they don’t always realise that what for them is a throwaway comment said in a moment of frustration can really hurt someone, “says Richard Denney, Joint CCO at St Luke’s. “The aim of this campaign is to make people stop and think about how their words can affect others.”

Agency: St Luke’s
Joint Chief Creative Officer: Richard Denney
Head of Art & Design: Pete Mould
Creatives: Jord Morris, Danny Jones
Photographer: Stephen Ambrose