When you hear the word “hyperloop,” chances are the first person you think of is Elon Musk. The tech titan and Tesla founder was perhaps the first big name in business to publicly discuss the technology, which transports passengers or cargo at nearly the speed of sound in specially designed capsules, in 2012. Since then, companies chasing a hyperloop reality have emerged around the globe, including Musk’s Boring Company, Richard Branson’s Virgin, and Los Angeles-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).
The latter is hoping to both differentiate itself enough to step out of Musk’s shadow and raise awareness for its Midwestern ambitions for a hyperloop route between Cleveland and Chicago that COO Andrea La Mendola says could be operational within three to five years. To do that, HTT has unveiled its first brand film, “Here Lies,” a eulogy of sorts for the label and concept of the American rust belt.
HTT chief marketing officer Robert Miller says that differentiation is critical, and the company is in a unique position. “It’s almost as if we time traveled back to the 1920’s and were a company called ‘Automobile,'” says Miller. “We have agreements around the world. We have a global team of over 800. And we’ve built this company in a way never done before. This is literally the coolest project on the planet. So, there’s a unique opportunity to build not just an iconic brand, but something meaningful for society.”
Miller recruited freelance creative directors Micky Coyne and Pete Harvey, who between them have worked at agencies like Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Droga5, 72andsunny, and barrettSF.
“In cities like Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit, there is a legacy that’s well understood,” says Miller. “But what is not well understood is that legacy continues. There are so many innovative companies here in land, air and aerospace, it’s an ideal location to develop and build Hyperloop. We realized there is this opportunity to tell the story of the past, present, and future of this region in a meaningful and authentic way.”
Coyne and Harvey say pejorative terms like “Rust Belt” make it seem like the region is forgotten, but with the development of a hyperloop connecting Cleveland and Chicago, they saw an opportunity to lay a misnomer to rest and make it clear that Hyperloop TT is the first in on an emerging utility.
“Elon Musk and Richard Branson have made hyperloop famous as the future of transportation but they’re not laying any track,” say Coyne and Harvey. “Our job was to position HTT as one step ahead, and to beat out other ‘moonshot’ technologies like genetic engineering and robotics to the VC investment dollars.”