South Western Railway tackles staff abuse in new OOH campaign


South Western Railway (SWR) has launched an out-of-home campaign highlighting some of the verbal abuse its workers have been subjected to by agitated customers.

The campaign, “Abuse stays with our staff”, was devised by creative agency St Luke’s and the work will run on all owned poster sites across the SWR network in the south and south-west of England from today (4 March).

South Western Railway brief

St Luke’s brief was to encourage non-abusive behaviour towards SWR colleagues and, in doing so, alleviate the long-term impact insulting words have on them.

It followed research into the experiences of SWR colleagues, where workers shared stories of the abuse they had received and how it has affected them and their lives.

The creative captures moments of everyday life, for example making a cup of tea, preparing soup, taking a shower, and returning home from work, shot through a POV lens.

It also features the abusive words that the protagonists have had thrown at them at work, including phrases such as “you absolute moron”, “you dumb cow”, and “you stupid old fool”.

The powerful visual representation highlights how harsh words said to staff can creep up on them and stay with them for a long time afterwards.

All four executions feature the words “The thoughtless abuse given to our staff can stay with them. BE KIND.”

Peter Williams, Customer & Commercial Director at South Western Railway said: “As frontline workers, our colleagues can unfortunately often be the receivers of verbal abuse from agitated customers.

“This campaign uses powerful imagery to educate people about how colleagues endure the lingering emotional damage of the abuse they receive in their everyday life.

“We want people to think before they take their agitation out on colleagues, and also remind them to always be kind.”

Richard Denney, Joint CCO at St Luke’s, said: “People travel by train for a variety of reasons and sometimes when they are feeling stressed or are wrapped up in their own problems, they don’t always realise that what for them is a throwaway comment said in a moment of frustration can really hurt someone.

“The aim of this campaign is to make people stop and think about how their words can affect others.”