East Coast Trains: I Love Trains Week

The Brief

National train operator East Coast Trains (now rebranded to Virgin Trains East Coast) wanted to encourage more travel by rail over other forms of transport by reminding people in a positive way why they enjoy travelling by train. East Coast Trains undertook market research that concluded that the majority of people have a positive connection with train travel. The challenge was to cut through the surface negativity and remind people why they love trains.

Working as part of a multi-agency integrated campaign with Intermarketing and Havas PR to support East Coast’s in-house social and marketing teams, Umpf’s specific objectives for social media included:ILT logo
1.    Drive engagement with the East Coast brand across a variety of social channels
2.    Hit 2.25 million social reach across all channels
3.    Development of unique and creative social media content
4.    Encourage usage of hashtag #ilovetrains, with a target of 1,250 uses
5.    Help generate 10,000 visits to ilovetrains.co.uk

Our Response

Our strategy was to develop a range of creative content concepts to meet the targets set and reach a broad demographic of potential rail travellers. By including individual strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, we utilised different social channels, taking advantage of their content characteristics of video, images and written content, allowing us to engage with a variety of potential rail travellers through differing touch points and content.

The range of activities we implemented to meet the objectives outlined included:

Instagrammer in Residence

We hired professional Instagram photographer Allan Hinton to capture the everyday special moments and destinations along the East Coast route during the week. Known by his personal Instagram account, @Chaiwalla, he travelled to Edinburgh and back stopping at other key destinations along the route. His images were uploaded daily on East Coast’s Instagram and his personal account, which had more than 90,000 followers at the time.

Celebrity vlogger website curation/video

We enlisted celebrity youth vlogger Raphael Gomes to curate the Ilovetrains.co.uk website and select his ‘editor’s picks’ of entries each day throughout the week. This activity involved Raphael driving his significant social following of over 250,000 to the website. In addition, our vlogger created a York travel vlog (below right), featuring East Coast Trains and referencing I Love Trains Week and uploaded it to his YouTube channel of 195,000 subscribers.

Twitter Thunderclap

A Twitter Thunderclap was created for people to sign up and agree to a ‘mass tweet out’, which they would share via Facebook and Twitter to help garner support for the campaign. The Thunderclap went out in the middle of the week with a tweet promoting the hashtag #ilovetrains. In addition to the general public, celebrities such as Scott Mills and Donna Air signed up to take part.

Twitter video card

East Coast became the first brand in the UK to use the then newly-launched Twitter video cards. In consultation with Twitter, we used a 15 second Instagram video from Allan Hinton and embedded this in a Twitter card.

Live updated digital banners

Working with Intermarketing to take the social into the physical and experiential, each day we beamed some of the best user-generated images using the hashtag #ilovetrains onto giant screens at some of East Coast’s train stations, including London King’s Cross and Edinburgh. New entries were collated to tight daily deadlines each morning and the videos were live in stations later that afternoon. This process was repeated five days across the week, ensuring each day’s content was fresh. Aimed at key commuter periods, this added-value activity encouraged people to share their story via social and created talking points at train stations.

Facebook and Twitter content

We used Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to Ilovetrains.co.uk and showcased the wide variety of user-generated content.


This bold and highly creative campaign proved a huge success and delivered across all the outlined objectives to support an ambitious integrated marketing campaign. Exceeding targets across the board by 64%, we used a wide variety of social channels, with highly creative concepts to great effect. In addition, we achieved a UK first in partnering with Twitter to launch their video card service, placing East Coast as a genuine social media innovator.

Highlights include:

* During the seven-day takeover of East Coast Trains’ Instagram account, followers increased by 775% and 1,246 engagements were received on uploads

* Raphael Gomes’ travel vlog featuring East Coast Trains achieved 42,468 views on YouTube and as a result, drove traffic to Ilovetrains.co.uk and use of #ilovetrains amongst a younger demographic

* Twitter Thunderclap achieved a social reach of 1,409,768

* Total campaign social reach of 3,193,306; 42% above target

* Total Facebook reach of 1,103,432 with total engagements at 98,739

* New Facebook likes were up 252% versus an average week

* Achieved 1,997 uses of the hashtag #ilovetrains; 60% above target

* Total Twitter reach of 2,089,874, with total engagements to @eastcoastuk at 1,237

* The campaign as a whole achieved over 18,940 unique visits to Ilovetrains.co.uk; 89% above target

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