In a digital world where everyone on the T is probably consumed by their cell phone for their entire trip, how will riders be reminded not to wear bulky backpacks on the train or to give up their seat to someone who needs it?
Through GIFs, of course.
The MBTA and its advertising partner, Outfront Media, teamed up with Giphy to launch a campaign to bring riders public service announcements through the easy-to-understand, animated world of GIFs.
The PSAs use Giphy, a GIF search engine, to integrate the GIFs into ON Smart Liveboards, which are digital panels that can display videos and are positioned throughout Boston transit stations.
“We’re thrilled that our platform is empowering the MBTA and Giphy to distribute GIF-based content in a new context,” said Andy Sriubas of Outfront Media in a statement. “We hope MBTA riders will appreciate the fun, lighthearted way that we are sharing these messages.”
These messages will focus mostly on reminders about rider etiquette and safety awareness. In one PSA, the screen plays a GIF of a dog crossing a street while wearing a backpack full of puppies.
“Remove your backpack,” the screen says above the GIF. Below, “Backpacks take up space and hit people – please take them off when riding the train. Courtesy counts.”
Another announcement addresses the issue colloquially known as “manspreading,” when a rider (usually male) spreads his legs wide apart while sitting, thus taking up someone else’s space.
The GIF for that one? A (perhaps slightly overweight) cat belly-up on a chair, its rear legs spread wide.
“Only take the seats you need,” the screen reads. “Please don’t take seats that you don’t need, and give up your seat if you see someone who needs it more. Courtesy counts.”
Yet another reminder urges commuters on the platform to "Stand aside for a faster ride" and features a GIF of multiple puppies crowded in a dog bed, all rushing to get out at once.
“Working with our advertising contractor, we are pleased to roll out these unique public service messages that address frequent comments from our customers,” Steve Poftak, interim MBTA general manager, said in a statement. “Courteous behavior makes the transit experience a more pleasant one, and we hope these fun and friendly reminders will increase public awareness.”