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  • Writer's pictureLiz Hayes

Case Study: AL DIA's unique formula for success includes thinking outside the box

October's Big Branded Call was the perfect platform for Martin Alfaro ™️ and Alaitz Ruiz-Arteagoitia of AL DÍA News Media to show off their incredibly successful branded content series, Abordo SEPTA, a thoughtful and exciting campaign that highlights SEPTA's diverse ridership by sharing stories of those who use the public transit system in the Philadelphia region.

To further exemplify the heart of the series, Alfaro, director or business development and Ruiz-Arteagoitia, senior business development executive, worked with several partners and additional sponsors to create La Guagua 47, a short film featuring a SEPTA bus, colorful characters, dancing, joyful music and a truly unique branded content experience for the client and everyone involved. La Guagua 47 was premiered at the historic Kimmel Cultural Campus with amazing fanfare.

Putting content at the forefront of advertising partnerships has yielded incredible results for AL DIA, which has had a long-standing relationship with SEPTA. Ruiz-Arteagoitia says they wanted to approach the client with something truly unique that would also put a positive light on the transit company.

"Public transit is super essential, but when you ask the average public transit rider how they feel about their local public transit, the answers more often than not won't be that positive," he said. "It's a year-long content series that aims to humanize this diverse ridership by documenting shared and different experiences throughout the same public transit system."

Because of COVID-19, ridership had been down, but it was still a critical pillar of the Philly community, transporting essential workers throughout the pandemic. SEPTA had been a consistent advertiser for AL DIA, but they needed something bigger to illustrate its importance to the community.

"We wanted to find stories that are real stories from people that can tell you that to them, public transportation is more than just a service. It's a way of life," Alfaro said.

The team created a digital landing page hosting six pieces of written content, each with an accompanying short video featuring individual public transit riders and their unique perspectives and experiences.

In one video, Sloan Carter explains how riding the bus saved her life by giving her an escape from a traumatic past and an introduction to Philadelphia's gay and lesbian community, art galleries, bookstores and cultural experiences that she may not otherwise have had.

Ruiz-Arteagoitia says they worked with local community organizations and non-profits to find multicultural people with moving stories to be featured in the series. By having a unique editorial angle, AL DIA has positioned itself as a trusted organization not only with news, but with creative content.

The La Guagua 47 took two days to film, but months to set up, with so many hands touching the project and additional sponsors helping it come to life.

"There were very long days, really early mornings and late nights. There was a scene that we needed and we had to wait until it was night time to film that, but it was such an amazing experience," Alfaro said.

They considered La Guagua 47 to be the ultimate culmination of the multimedia campaign, with so many people coming together to see it through. The film illustrates the journey of a Puerto Rican woman in Center City, a very corporate part of Philadelphia. She realizes something is missing in her life and asks where she can find an area where her culture was openly displayed and celebrated. Someone tells her to take the 47 bus, which runs from South Philadelphia to North Philly, touching all of the unique neighborhoods along the way.

"We live in a city that's diverse and we wanted to make sure that no matter your background that you can relate to this story somehow," Alfaro said.

The sponsorship with SEPTA was a 6-figure deal for AL DIA, with extra sponsors brought in to help fund additional expenses. They also received support from the Kimmel Culture Campus, where the film was premiered.

To make it all even more special, there was a live art exhibition featuring some of the costumes in the film and an opportunity for spectators to add their artistry to a massive painting of a SEPTA bus.

"I'm just grateful that we had the trust, the complete trust from SEPTA in a space where they didn't know what was going to happen," Ruiz-Arteagoitia said. "The confidence that this project has given us in terms of what we're capable of, and not fearing new territories and uncharted waters, bodes really well for where we're gonna take our relationship with SEPTA."

SEPTA was thrilled with the entire campaign, which was a massive undertaking by the team at AL DIA, and everyone else involved. AL DIA also regularly partners with other media companies to amplify their campaigns. They were pleased to have coverage from every news outlet in the city, and a few outside, adding to the value of earned media.

AL DÍA is a 30-year-old bilingual news organization founded on the mission to portray Americans of multicultural backgrounds accurately.

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The Meta Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Local Media Association, the Local Media Consortium, and the Facebook Journalism Project to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.

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