30 minutes with Barbara Jensen
Barbara Jensen, senior executive manager for communication and marketing for the Gautrain Management Agency, worked with the brand from the very start, which has given her a bird’s eye view of what it means to market a concept such as public transport to an audience that sees it as a “mode of force” rather than a mode of choice. Unlike the case in Europe and Asia, where many commuters choose to use public transport even if they own private vehicles, South Africans love their cars, and before the Gautrain came into operation people who used public transport were mostly those who had no other option, she recalls. The challenge that lay ahead for the agency was therefore to position public transport as a whole, and consequently also the Gautrain, as a mode of choice. It meant taking a long-term approach to marketing the brand. “Our long-term investment lay in entrenching the Gautrain, and by extension public transport, as a lifestyle choice,” Jensen explains.