Fare dinkum: Opal Man just one part of a $5 million ad blitz

A still from the Opal Man campaign for Opal cards by Transport for NSW. Photo: Supplied

A still from the Opal Man campaign for Opal cards by Transport for NSW. Photo: Supplied

A concept such as Opal Man, an "anthropomorphised rectangular Opal transport card with human facial features and limbs", does not come cheap.

In fact, that particular stroke of inspiration is part of a $100,000 package, and also involves the spending of millions more to promote the transport card and the Opal Man online, on posters, and on the radio.

As the state government prepares for the big test of the Opal ticketing system next week, documents released to the state opposition shed more light on how much is being spent on the marketing blitz for the smartcard – one element of which is the walking rectangle.  

The government has said it is spending about $5 million on advertising before September 1, when 14 types of paper tickets will no longer be sold.

But it will spend millions more in the months after, including on promotional posters, radio ads and in other media.

According to the documents obtained by Labor transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe, advertising firm Ogilvy Mather banked $100,000 for devising the name and concept of Opal Man, as well as "the image of a person wearing an oversized rectangular Opal transport card costume".

The documents reveal the development and production of videos for Opal Man, four of which have been released on YouTube, will cost $2.3 million by June, based on a contract with JWT Sydney.

Buying media spots is slated to cost $4.7 million until June.

Ms Sharpe said the money would have been better spent training Sydney Trains staff to help with the Opal system; at present they are not responsible for Opal sales or information.

"The Opal rollout has set up a system where train tickets can't be bought at train stations, there are two different teams of people selling tickets and a fare hike for many commuters," Ms Sharpe said.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has warned that from Monday, when some longer-term tickets and rail and ferry passes are no longer sold, people who have not switched to the Opal card could face longer queues.

The Opal system is being introduced at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.

Transport for NSW is also spending $2.9 million until the end of next month on information and sales staff at train stations, and at Westfield shopping centres.

A Transport for NSW spokesman listed what the $5 million had been spent on: more than 2 million information brochures and flyers; 110,000 tap on/tap off stickers on trains, stations, buses, bus stops and ferries; 400,000 window stickers and pocket guides for retailers; 6500 posters for train stations, bus stops and ferry wharves; and ads for television, radio, newspaper and social media, featuring Opal Man.

SMH

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