The MTA is going older school than usual starting Labor Day weekend, compliments of your favorite lovable crime lord, Nucky Thompson.
As part of the "Compliments of Nucky" campaign promoting the September 25 return of period drama Boardwalk Empire, HBO is putting a vintage 1920s train back on the track on New York's 2 / 3 line (Nucky refers to the show's central character, played by Steve Buscemi). The train, a real transit museum piece, originally appeared in 1917 operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit system.
On weekends during the month of September, MTA customers can ride the train at the 42nd, 72nd and 96th Street stops. According to HBO, the train features authentic period details like rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop sash windows. Non-period elements include Boardwalk Empire- themed artwork that directs straphangers to the campaign’s Facebook page, where they can get access to Nuck-related perks. On the final weekend, "brand ambassadors" will be outside of the 42nd and 72nd St. stops giving away free metrocards (and, we hope, jugs of hooch with XX on the label).
HBO has done some creative things with NY subway space in the past; in 2005, it outfitted the Times Square-to-Grand Central Shuttle with wild west saloon decor to promote the series Deadwood. But the Nucky campaign takes the ads-as-real-life factor up a notch.
According to Gene Ribeiro, MTA Director, Promotions and Economic Development, the transit authority puts the vintage train on the tracks for the holidays, but this is the first time it's been used in this kind of media promotion.
As part of the campaign, HBO has also sponsored an Atlantic City beautification project (pause for NJ gags here) whereby the gateway to the city will get a landscape makeover. An entrance sign to Atlantic City (where the show is set) reads, "Atlantic City Beautification Project... Compliments of Nucky Thompson," with a promo for the season two premier underneath.
The campaign will include further deals and content via partnerships with other brands. A Living Social tie-up will allow fans to book prohibition-themed packages for the reduced rate of $19.21 (get it?). On September 24 and 25, "Nucky" will pick up all eastbound Pleasantville tolls into Atlantic City from the AC Expressway. The campaign's Facebook app will include daily instant win prizes; those who share the app with three friends can gain access to "Nucky’s Suite," where they will get access to original content from the show and get the chance to win trips to Caesars Las Vegas and Atlantic City.