Commuters - Travel diaries - Planes, trains and automobiles

Four media industry executives tell Nick Huber about their advertising experiences on their morning commutes

Capital experience: industry execs tell of their morning commutes into London
Capital experience: industry execs tell of their morning commutes into London

Charlie McGee
Managing director, Carat Digital
Lives: Muswell Hill, north London
Works: Holborn, London WC2

6:05am I am woken by my children.

6:55am My day's first hit of advertising comes from various toy manufacturers, in the ad break before Peppa Pig on Nickelodeon.

7:30am I walk to the bus stop, board the W7 bus and ignore the free newspaper on the seat. I check my e-mails on my BlackBerry, my Twitter updates via TwitterBerry, my Facebook updates and my Hotmail account. I ignore most of the messages.

7:45am My bus journey takes me past numerous outdoor sites. I admire how well the advertising is positioned to best effect when I am stationary, but notice a couple of abandoned sites.

7:50am I look at on my BlackBerry for news and sport updates. I take a call from my wife reminding me that I need to call the plumber, and receive a text from my PA saying the trains are packed and she will be 10 minutes late.

8:00am I arrive at Finsbury Park Tube station, say "thank you" when I am handed a copy of ShortList, and move down the subway. I don't bother picking up Metro. I am hit by large poster messages and am disappointed not to see any digital advertising on the platform. It's curious that many commuters are reading paid-for papers, particularly The Sun.
8:10am The journey on the Piccadilly Line to Holborn lacks impact in terms of advertising. Some Tube cards are missing and everyone is absorbed in their own media. I put on my iPod and listen to podcasts from iCarat and possibly Media Week.

8:25am I jump off the Tube at Holborn. There is plenty of digital outdoor advertising, but I don't like the mountain of free papers at the bottom of the escalator.

8:30am I avoid the people collecting for charity, the promoters for a gym chain and the City AM distributors. I dodge the No 210 bus plastered with ads for Hannah Montana as I cross Kingsway and walk to Carat's offices in Parker Tower.


David McEvoy*
Marketing director, JCDecaux
Lives: Godalming, Surrey
Works: Paddington, London W2

6.30am I drive to Godalming train station, noticing a roadside billboard on the way.

6.38am I buy The Daily Telegraph from Steve the Chelsea fan at the station. Metro is distributed this far out, but nobody picks it up.

Everyone is reading The Times, Daily Mail or The Daily Telegraph. The Financial Times pile is already much reduced, as the FT readers tend to be on the earlier trains.

6.40am to 6.45am I check my e-mails and appointments on my BlackBerry. There is a spam e-mail from Amazon for a 250GB external hard-drive at a bargain £44.99. I make a mental note that I need to back up my newly digitised CD collection. It's an unsolicited e-mail that actually works.

6.45am I get the train to Waterloo and talk to my fellow commuters - I know, very strange. Nicola is a buyer at John Lewis, so I get a trading update, and Matt works at the Bank of England and gives me his view on the economy. Word of mouth is far more useful than Facebook or Twitter.

7.00am I read the Telegraph, first sport, then business, before skimming the main section. I make mental notes of the ads so I can harangue the sales team to up-sell them to posters. There are no ads in the business or sport sections - well, the news is about economic turmoil and the sports coverage is West Ham versus Millwall. I spend my last 15 minutes on the train doing the Killer Sudoku. Mental agility first thing is good for the elderly.

7.33am I arrive at Waterloo and go straight to the London Underground. I board a northbound Bakerloo line train opposite a 48-sheet poster advertising Magners.

7.50am I arrive at Edgware Road. The lifts are crap and I'm getting moody. I walk to work, passing a phone-kiosk ad for Magners with the strapline "Speed is not of the essence". It's a six-word tweet on the street. Who needs 140 words? My mood is improving and I'm looking forward to my lunchtime pint.

7.55am I arrive at JCDecaux's office at Summit House.

  • McEvoy recorded his journey using a handheld GPS device that tracks consumers' journey patterns. In 2010, audience research body Postar will launch the GPS tracking device to help estimate audiences' exposure to outdoor advertising.


Travis Baxter

Managing director, radio, Bauer Media
Lives: Shaftesbury, Dorset, and usually commutes to London two or three times a week.
Works: Oxford Street, London W1

7.00am I listen to BBC Radio 4 before I leave home, but its news agenda is quite narrow.

7.45am I leave home and drive to the station in my own car. My route is mainly rural, so I fail to see any outdoor advertising apart from a few "for sale" signs outside homes. I listen to a mix of radio stations depending on my mood, including local stations Wave 105 and Midwest Radio.
8.15am I take the train from Salisbury to London. I don't buy a paper: when I'm on the train I use my mobile – a Nokia E71 – to read The Times, The Guardian and the Press Association's media feed, which gives me a useful update on media activity and can be downloaded to my phone. I have been doing some project work in Turkey, and so I may read stories from an English-language version of a Turkish national newspaper called Hürriyet. There is some advertising on my mobile phone, but nothing has ever caught my eye. I just click on a web page and then click on the editorial. Heaven help media owners if they stick a pop-up ad on the screen - I stop looking at the site immediately.

9.50am I usually get a cab from Waterloo to Oxford Street. The journey takes about 15 minutes and I use the time to make phone calls. I notice one billboard ad on a roundabout that has fantastic images from the new Star Trek movie and I also see a mystifying ad on a bus with the strapline "Guess what I do?".

10.00am I spot a fantastic piece of advertising in the window of Margaret Howell on Wigmore Street. The display features some shirts on hangers and an ironing board with a shirt on it. It's like a piece of art. How often do shop windows stop you in your tracks?

10.05am I arrive at the office.


Lawson Muncaster
Managing director, CityAM
Lives: About 20 miles outside Edinburgh, but stays in his flat in Borough Market during the week.
Works: Cannon Street, London EC1

5.30am When I commute from Edinburgh to London on Monday morning I get up at 5.30am and leave my flat at 6.30am.

6.30am to 7.30am I drive to the airport in my own car. I start by listening to Radio 5Live and John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, and then switch to BBC Radio 2. The first piece of marketing I see is a massive Royal Bank of Scotland-branded footbridge at the company's corporate headquarters in Edinburgh.

7.30am When I get to Edinburgh airport, the advertising world comes alight. The digital screens for fund management firm Artemis' "Profit hunter" ads are doing my head in, although it is a very good campaign. I go through to departures and buy myself The Guardian, because it is not free in the British Airways lounge. I buy The Guardian specifically for the Media Guardian section, although it is a bit internet-biased.

8.00am I board the plane, which tends to arrive at City Airport on time at 9.25am every week.

9.25am I jump in a taxi, and nine times out of 10 I'll see that bloody Artemis "Profit hunter" ad again. If Cab Vision is available [pre-recorded TV channels on small screens in the backs of cabs] I'll have a fiddle with that, but by 9.25am I need to respond to voicemails on my mobile. I don't own a BlackBerry, because I have never received any significantly good news by e-mail or BlackBerry. I prefer to communicate by mobile phone or face to face.

9.50am I arrive at City AM's offices on Cannon Street, sometimes beating people who have come from Richmond. During the week I read City AM in 20 minutes and am ready for the business day. But on the way home, I have lost my way when it comes to an evening read because the London Evening Standard has become too arty, with not enough debate.

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