Austria, a country famed for its stunning Alpine landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has recently taken an unusual approach to promoting its nationwide public transport system. They're offering a free year of public transport to individuals willing to get a tattoo of 'Klimaticket,' the moniker for the country's comprehensive public transport scheme.
While this initiative has garnered both applause and criticism, it undoubtedly stands out as a novel and attention-grabbing way to promote eco-friendly transportation.
The Brainchild of a Green MP and Climate Minister
This intriguing initiative was spearheaded by Leonore Gewesseler, a Green Member of Parliament who also serves as Austria's climate minister.
Her enthusiasm for the campaign was evident as she sported her temporary tattoo reading "Gewessler takes the lead" at the Frequency Festival in St. Pölten. According to Gewesseler, the promotion is commendable to encourage eco-conscious travel, but not everyone shares her enthusiasm.
How Does the Tattoo for Ticket Scheme Work?
The centerpiece of this unconventional promotion is a pop-up tattoo parlor adorned with the banner "Aktion geht unter die Haut" (Action that gets under your skin). This mobile tattoo station has appeared at various events this summer, including music festivals.
Attendees were offered a tempting proposition: get a 'Klimaticket' (climate ticket) tattoo, and in return, enjoy free, unlimited train travel throughout Austria for a whole year. So far, six daring individuals have taken the plunge and received their free tickets.
For the uninitiated, this annual pass permits access to almost all forms of public transportation in Austria, allowing residents and visitors to traverse the nation for a mere €3 per day. Concessionary rates are available for young people, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, making it an attractive and affordable option. Presently, around 245,000 people possess this coveted pass in a country with a population of nearly 9 million.
At these events, attendees weren't limited to the 'Klimaticket' tattoo alone. They were also offered other designs that revolved around public transport, sustainability, and climate change, all free of charge. However, the offer of free rail travel was exclusive to the first three individuals who opted for the 'Klimaticket' design at each event, adding an element of competition to this unique promotion.
A Mixed Bag of Reactions
Unsurprisingly, this eyebrow-raising campaign has generated its fair share of critics. Some individuals, including social media users, have voiced concerns about the campaign potentially encouraging young people to make hasty decisions about permanent tattoos. Critics have also accused Gewessler of utilizing young people's bodies as a canvas for her political messaging.
Henrike Brandstötter, a member of Austria's liberal NEOS party, expressed her reservations about the initiative, arguing that "offering people money for putting advertising under their skin reveals an unacceptable view of humanity from a government minister." Newspapers have been equally critical, with The Standard branding the offer as "sustainably stupid" and Salzburger Nachrichten labeling it "naked cynicism."
In response to these critiques, Gewessler defended the campaign, asserting that it had been meticulously executed. She emphasized that the tattoos were only offered to individuals aged 18 and above, and most participants already had tattoos. Moreover, she argued that the daytime setting of these events reduced the likelihood of intoxication among attendees.
Representatives from the company responsible for selling the climate ticket tweeted in, reporting "extremely positive" feedback at the festivals, suggesting that the target audience had received the campaign well.
The Future of This Unusual Initiative
As the year progresses, no more events are planned, and it remains uncertain whether the free ticket offer will return in 2024. Whether this eyebrow-raising initiative becomes a lasting success or merely a footnote in Austria's promotional history, it undeniably stands as a testament to the lengths some are willing to go to promote sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Only time will tell if this quirky idea will leave a lasting mark on Austria's transportation landscape.