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UITP awards nominee

Public Transport employees are entitled to respect


  • Marketing
Elevator pitch
Verbal and physical aggressions on STIB’s staff becomes more and more frequent. STIB launched a campaign that literally uses the words of the aggressors to sensitise customers and stakeholders. The campaign earned the exposure this problem deserves.
Project Description

In 2021, STIB recorded 657 verbal assaults and 113 physical assaults by passengers against its staff. That’s at least 2 per day. These figures are likely to be higher in reality, as staff do not always report all incidents of verbal and physical abuse they experience. Aggressors probably don’t think about it, but these incidents leave deep scars.

What was even more worrying: Looking at the ratio between aggressions and the number of journeys, they weren’t following the same trend: journeys were down 26%, whilst aggressions were up 39% when comparing 2021 to 2019. STIB’s CEO issued two press releases concerning this trend in early 2022, but this didn’t seem enough.

STIB needed to find another way to sensitise customers and stakeholders.

Innovative features

To highlight the issue, STIB joined forces with Brussels-based artist Youssef Swatt’s. He drew inspiration from actual real incident reports and created a hip-hop song. The insults you hear in the first part of the song are the words that Brussels public transportation employees really hear every day in their work. Words that nobody wants or deserves to hear. The second part of the song addresses the role STIB’s staff in Brussels and humanises them, the opposite of what words and acts of abuse do.

STIB and the artist, the son of a bus driver in the south of Belgium, made a movie clip. The creative concept – using insults heard by staff – was also used on STIB’s owned media and in a radio spot (insults replaced with the well-known tram sound).

Impact features

Awareness with main target audience (18-24: 74% // 18-34: 70%) was high. Media reporting shows press coverage reached millions (6.669.719) with positive tonality/sentiment. This is remarkable, because the topic is negative and the average message concerning STIB in the press are 33% to 50% more frequently negative.

Key statements such as “the campaign clearly shows that STIB staff are confronted with inappropriate and aggressive behavior on a daily basis”, and “STIB staff members are at the service of all travellers, they deserve more respect” earned 90% and 88% support respectively.

During and after the campaign, verbal and physical assaults dropped to the lowest point in 5 years, lower than during the pandemic. The campaign likely contributed to these results.

  • Over 6.6 million

    reached through earned press coverage

  • 74%

    of the target 18-24 audience reached

  • 90% of people agree

    the campaign clearly highlighted the issue