CBSN Wraps New York Subway in Red and Blue to Tout ‘Non-Partisan’ Election Coverage

It's the streaming service’s biggest out-of-home campaign to date

The CBSN-wrapped trains include facts about the number of gubernatorial, House and Senate races up for grabs in November. - Credit by CBSN
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Whether they are Republicans or Democrats, New York subway commuters will find something to like about the new campaign from CBSN, CBS’ streaming news service.

In its largest out-of-home campaign to date, CBSN has wrapped the shuttle train between Grand Central Station and Times Square in both blue and red colors to raise awareness of its “non-partisan” news coverage as the midterm elections approach, said Christy Tanner, evp and general manager of CBS News Digital.

The campaign, which runs through Nov. 11, features a red and blue color scheme. The interior includes CBSN branding and midterm election facts, focusing on the number of gubernatorial, House and Senate races up for grabs in November.

It’s the first subway wrap for CBS News and CBS Interactive.


“Given the fact that the number of red and blue seats in Congress up for grabs during midterms is a daily topic of conversation on CBSN, we thought that wrapping subway seats in red and blue would be a great way to tie the campaign to our daily politics coverage,” said Tanner, who stresses that in the tradition of CBS News, CBSN’s coverage is nonpartisan.

The average age of a CBSN viewer is 37, and its audience—which has quadrupled since its 2014 launch—has “consistently remained roughly one third Republican, one third Democrat and one third independent,” said Tanner.

In addition to promoting the network’s midterm election coverage, the new campaign is also helping CBSN build brand awareness as CBS prepares to launch CBSN New York, a local version of CBSN, in the fourth quarter. The streaming service, which sees an increase in mobile usage during commuting hours, is also looking to position itself as a streaming option for commuters.


The subway wrap is also doubling as a brand campaign aimed at advertisers. “The Grand Central-Times Square nexus is where we would like to reach ad industry executives and media buyers with the message that CBSN delivers nonpartisan, brand-safe content,” Tanner said. “We think that CBS News Digital is among the most brand-safe environments in digital, and we want to reinforce that with the ad industry.”

CBSN is the latest outlet to wrap the Grand Central-Times Square shuttle train as part of a campaign. Last spring, ABC turned the same train into Roseanne’s iconic TV living room as part of the nostalgia-themed campaign for that revival, while Fox Sports 1 made waves a year ago with a provocative subway campaign asking fans if they were “hopeful” or “hopeless” about the New York Knicks.

In addition to the subway takeover, CBSN’s out-of-home campaign also includes an activation at Helmsley Walkway in New York’s Midtown. From Oct. 29 to Nov. 25, passersby will see animated eight-second rotations of red, white and blue panels featuring “Commute with CBSN” messaging that will direct them to download the CBS News app.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
Publish date: October 18, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT