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Hop on the bus -- literally -- for Six Flags' new TV campaign

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Published: March 8, 2006 at 9:24 PM

Have you seen the new Six Flags television commercials yet? I just caught the new Magic Mountain spot here in L.A., and if CEO Mark Shapiro is serious about reaching out to the family market, these new commercials aren't gonna get that done.

Granted, Magic Mountain's got a new roller coaster to promote. And the new spot certainly plays up the thrill angle. It features a early 20-something riding a city bus, with a bored expression on his face. He slides open the window, then climbs out and up on to the top of the bus, where he "surfs" as the bus drives down the street. The tag tells viewers to come to Six Flags to find their thrills, pitching Tatsu.

Personally, I think that if you're going to show egregiously illegal and unsafe behavior in a commercial, you need to go waaaaaay over the top with it, to make sure the viewer knows he watching farce. This spot plays too... reserved. It almost feels like Six Flags *really thinks* there is a market of bus-surfing Gen-Y'ers out there that it wants to capture.

It sure doesn't do anything for me, as a parent, to convince me to bring the family out to the park. If you've seen the spot, what do you think? And if you've seen a different Six Flags ad in your market, post a comment with a report. Thanks.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on March 9, 2006 at 10:09 AM
I think it is just a type of commerical that is recycled for all the Six Flags parks. Though I am not a parent, I could be considered in generation Y (or X, I really don't know). Here in Illinois, where Six Flags is the ONLY theme park around (Literally the next one is Mall of America, if you count that and, you guessed it, another Six Flags!) Ceder Point is the next closest, but because they have a "momopoly" in the midwest, they can get away with making the parks suit the "extreme" and teen crowd. In Chicago, we see that bald headed guy run bererk all over the televsion. We had an "extreme" addition with Hurricane Harbor, which, if you have ever been to Flordia, is really not that great! Anyway, I think it is inappropriate in CA because of all the other parks that tend to cater for kids! Not until I got onto this site did I realize the emmense control Six Flags has on the midwest!
From Robert Niles on March 9, 2006 at 12:03 PM
I grew up in Indianapolis, and we were partial to Kings Island, though there were more than a few (then-Mariott's) Great America and Cedar Point fans around, too. Holiday World (then Santa Claus Land) was nothing, and I don't think Kentucky Kingdom existed yet. Six Flags had a park in Missouri, one in Atlanta and the flagship down in Texas, and that was it.

But I don't remember *ever* seeing a TV commercial for a theme park, save Disney World.

I suspected that the current Six Flags commercial would be used around the country, but it looks like Flower St. in downtown L.A., so I couldn't be sure until someone outside SoCal confirms it. (It might be a little early to start running commercials elsewhere, too. I keep forgetting that most of y'all aren't experiencing 60-plus degree weather right now.)

One thing that I missed before seeing the spot again last night. The narrator says "our employees have grown accustomed to thrills," or something like that, as the guy climbs on to the bus. So, the subtext here is, what? Six Flags employees are reckless? Is that *really* what the company wants to say?

From Mike K on March 9, 2006 at 2:07 PM
Sounds like an interesting commercial...

Any chance you know of a place that has it online so I can see it here in Ohio?

From Robert Niles on March 9, 2006 at 2:27 PM
Haven't seen it on YouTube yet. Only the old commercials with Mr. Six.
From Erik Yates on March 9, 2006 at 2:49 PM
I spent a lot of summers in Dayton, and remember loads of TV commercials for "The Bat" and even "King Cobra". Then living the rest of the year in Florida, of course Disney, but also Busch Gardens and Sea World, especially Sea World. Didnt they used to have a Bermuda Triangle attraction? But we get all kinds of theme parks ads here now, And I did see the new ad on Nickelodeon. Being a parent, I really dont know what to think. I guess I just hope I am raising my kids to be smart enough to know that riding ontop of a bus is just stupid. Kids come up with stupid things to do on their own, and I dont think that a theme park commercial will influence that too much, though I do see a five or six year old out in the driveway acting like Mr. Six, falling and breaking their collar bone. Still up in the air on it I guess.
From Derek Potter on March 9, 2006 at 11:43 PM
Magic Mountain may or may not want to become a more family oriented place, but the fact remains, they don't have anything for the young kids yet. Until they do, all they've got is the gen x and y thrillseekers. If they don't market to them, than nobody will come. Before they market to the family, they have to have a product, or one at least headed in that direction. Call it the ole catch 22, but there's no reason to market to the family yet because they are building yet another coaster. Tatsu is the big new ride, a B&M flyer, not exactly the Peter Pan ride. I say that with better atmosphere, more complimentary rides, better food, and better management...and a demolition or two, they could make coaster world work.
From Robert Niles on March 10, 2006 at 10:39 AM
Well said, Derek!

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