“Carmageddon” Nightmare Becomes Public Relations Fun

Closing down a stretch of interstate for repairs is a necessary part of city upkeep. But closing down Interstate 405 on a busy vacation weekend seemed, well, stupid.

For this section of Interstate 405, between Highway 101 and Interstate 10, this past weekend was predicted as the ‘Carmageddon’ of traffic mayhem in Los Angeles.

We do feel for our friends on the opposite coast who live in constant traffic jams. However, Carmageddon was very enlightening for us. It was fun to see the advertising and PR campaigns that popped up spontaneously from the road closure!

JetBlue launched a campaign called #OverThe405 announcing $4 flights from three nearby L.A. airports to Long Beach. The purpose was to inform the public of the three airports in the region and JetBlue’s exceptional service. (Btw, tickets from those two flights sold out within two hours setting a new record for fastest-selling tickets in JetBlue history.)

Not to be outdone by $4 airline tickets, bicyclist group Wolfpack Hustle challenged JetBlue to a race to Long Beach. Twitter was abuzz this weekend about #flightvsbike. Wolfpack wanted to promote biking in L.A., and the press eagerly showed up to watch the race! (Just so you know the end of the story, the bikers win!)

In what turned out to be one of the “most quiet Saturdays I’ve seen,” according to a local man living near the Interstate, the public heard the city’s warnings loud and clear…and stayed off the streets.

Traffic jams predicted on alternate routes were averted when so many stayed home or used alternate transportation, such as biking, walking, mass transit, rollerblades or flights.

Besides the JetBlue and Wolfpack fun, LAWeekly Blogs posted once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: “Check the Carmageddon app, the official Carmageddon live chat and car-themed drink specials on the Westside.”

So much effective PR surrounding a road closure!

I almost wish I was on the West Coast to join the fun. (Almost, but not quite.)