SF Environment

Emergency Ride Home

Emergency Ride Home

The Challenge

Navigating work and family needs in bustling San Francisco can be a challenge, to say the least. That’s why the San Francisco Environment Department stepped in with the Emergency Ride Home (ERH) program to offer a way for mass transit or carpool commuters to get a free taxi ride if they have an emergency. This initiative not only supports the city’s sustainability goals but also helps low-income parents, many of whom find taxi costs burdensome. By rewarding regular bus and subway riders with emergency taxi services, ERH promotes greener transit while making city navigation easier when these families need it most.

The Concept and Messaging

The ERH campaign is all about giving parents a free taxi in emergencies. But explaining the details can get complicated. That’s where our team shines—we crafted a message that’s clear, quick to understand, and easy to translate. We’re proud to say that showing you the ad itself is the quickest and most effective way to get the ins and outs of a complicated program.

A math equation format allowed us to present a clear and concise message that, when coupled with a tone that’s both educational and straightforward, does a few things.

A) Breaks up the program’s multiple parts to ensure qualification is easily understood with minimal effort
B) Thematically emphasizes that this program deals with schools
C) Lands with the target audience of parents from underserved communities

Transcreation process

The second challenge was creating a concept that would translate across multiple cultures and languages. We collaborated with our transcreation partner from concept creation to development to ensure our message maintained its original meaning in different languages. It had to be natural and culturally relevant to Spanish-speaking, Chinese, and Filipino circles. Thankfully, math is (almost) universal!

Targeted Outreach

Once we had the ads, we needed the strategy. Reach was a bit tricky here as the audience was so specific (in-person working guardians with kids in school). Working with our friends at Next Steps Marketing, the ERH campaign used a diverse, comprehensive mix of digital advertising, print media, and upcoming out-of-home placements. Digital channels, such as Google Display and Meta, proved particularly effective in engaging Chinese- and English-speaking audiences. Geotargeting was an important component. Ads were placed in local multicultural print publications and strategically featured near schools and in areas with high concentrations of families.

Post-Campaign Insights

After just a few short months, the ERH pilot campaign achieved impressive results. The post-campaign survey revealed that awareness surged from 16% to 38%, and the number of people open to using the service jumped from 64% to 75%.

Next Stop: More Rides

ERH makes the lives of San Francisco’s working parents easier and breaks down barriers to sustainable commuting. By simplifying a complex need into a clear solution and effectively leveraging different channels, ERH has not only raised awareness – it’s fostered a positive response from the community. For a campaign designed to have a direct, positive impact on those in need, we consider that a huge success.