Last year, the folks at Volkswagen and Fun Theory devised an engaging (and musical!) way for people to exit a subway station. Now they’ve come up with a equally engaging way for people to enter a subway station. (Someone should do a story about subterranean behavior modification. There are lots and lots of examples – Ed.)

(HT: Tony Schwartz)

21 Responses to “More emotional intelligence in the subway”

  1. Jim Seybert says:

    Hah !!

    Love it – Life in the FUN Lane.

    My favorite images are the faces of those who look over from the boring old escalator and appear to be thinking, “Oh man, I wanna do THAT.”

  2. Jeff Swain says:

    Very cool. It seems to hit all three elements of good design. It’s affective, behavioral and reflective. People love to do it; it serves it’s designed purpose, and it says something about those who choose to do it.


  3. Jason says:

    What is amazing about Volkswagen’s “fun theory” project is that it demonstrates the power of marketing to actually transform the world for the better. It will be interesting to see if other businesses catch onto this and start similar projects.

  4. Kathy Babb says:

    And the slide is a universal symbol for childhood! We all remember sliding, no matter your age or country of origin. I loved the business man who carefully allowed himself to join the fast lane. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Niels says:

    I love this video. The idea of having an exciting moment at the beginning of what could be a dreary commute, wonderful.

    I am afraid that this would be impossible in the US. There had to be signs that said that sliding can potentially cause serious damage to something or other. Some lawyer would figure out a way to kill this; “just think of the potential liability” and who know, someone might actually think of a way to get an accident and sue somebody.

    We need Fun Theory here and make them exempt from law suits (instead of oil and gas companies).

  6. Funny, the courage it takes to play as an adult. We spend hours trying something new and experimenting as children. This slide supports that impulse, which is badly needed in these complex, overwhelming times. You go, Volkswagen and the Fun Theory Folk. And, by the way, we pay athletes and actors so much money because, deep down, we know that playing is the way to go.

  7. Fallon says:


    “Behavior modification” sounds quite sinister.

    Fun arranged by the corporation (VW) and inspired by some left-hemisphere abstractionists called Fun Theory.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is shallow and false?

    Seriously, folks… If I’m just being a killjoy here, let me know and I will never darken your screens again.

    I’m all for encouraging people to have fun, but the idea of engineering confrontations between play and seriousness seems to hoist itself up by its own bootstraps. It has no visible means of suspension. It’s a system for rejecting systems. Doesn’t anybody else see the irony in this?

  8. Dan Pink says:

    @fallon — Love your analysis. Hope it sparks some discussion.

  9. Jim Little says:

    It’s the ride, not the destination!

  10. Jim Little says:

    C’mon, don’t get freaked by thinking that right brained thinking is a conspiracy “designed” by left brainers!
    Actually, it’s BOTH!

  11. What I love about this is the looks of people who walk up to the top of the slide and then shrink back onto their confirmist “I can’t do that… ” mode. Bet they regret not doing it. The ones who do go for it would have been shaken out of their sheepwalk for a couple of hours at least as they realised “Yes I can…”, and “heck, why not…” and I bet they talked about the experience. I wonder what else they had the courage to do differently that day.

    Fallon may think its shallow and false on behalf of the corporation and the marketing agency but if it creates an impact and potentially a change in behaviour then I would suggest this is more than self serving.

    Reminds me of psychology experiments in the 80’s and 90’s that purposefully challenged the ‘usual’ social behaviours by doing things like walking into elevators and facing the other riders rather than looking blankly at the closed doors or the screens above. Things like this definitely make people squirm at first, and then wonder why they feel so uncomfortable.

    Overcoming the lizard brain in technicolour!

  12. Chee Chan says:

    Metros in Helsinki Finland has lots of these super long escalators, they should make these too, turn Metros into theme parks 🙂

  13. K-R says:

    Love it! Would try it in an instant, and I’m 63. Would also love to try the musical stairs to the exit. Wouldn’t these short expressions of fun just pick up your day?

  14. Cheryl says:

    What about the rebels who would climb up the slide?

  15. Noah Fleming says:

    It’s interesting to see how shocked people are at something so out of the norm.

    It’s also interesting to see the smiles on people’s faces as they embrace something new, risky, and different. For those who aren’t willing to take the chance, be watched, be looked at, well – you miss out.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Julio A. says:

    Thanks, Dan. This really made my day, which I’m sure is part of what makes this such an effective campaign. It’s not just smiles of those sliding, but smiles of those watching others slide as well as watching the video thousands of miles away. Let’s not forget the brilliance of this marketing design.

    Sure, the fact that it’s a marketing campaign makes me skeptical. Marketing today is meant to be subtle and often subliminal. On the flip side, I’d feel worse about engineering play scenarios if so many didn’t need it so badly. I’d rather see a slide on the subway than a $50 million Nike commercial.

    @Cheryl – Those who attempt to climb the slide should be doubly praised. They’re REALLY thinking outside the box.

    @Niels – It’s just like a playground. Sure, put a sign up and let people have fun at their own risk. Statistically, it can’t be that much more dangerous than a flight of stairs.

  17. Howard Feight says:

    I too am driven by fun. Life is ment to be enjoyed so the next time you see a slide take off your shoes and joy a kid in a little bit of fun. Get where you are going just a little bit funner no just quicker.

  18. C. A. Hurst says:


  19. John Zimmer says:

    This endeavour is great on a number of levels:

    1. It is simple.
    2. It is universal.
    3. It reminds us of what it was like to be a kid – to be inquisitive; to take chances; to try something new.
    4. It is fun.
    5. It is cost-effective.

    I like Fallon’s comments – he is free to continue to “darken our screens” in my view – but I don’t agree with him. If it takes the initiative of a company like VW to do something like this, I say Bravo. Our society likes to slam corporations for being driven by profits and self-interest, but when they try to do things like this, they get slammed as well.

    I also fail to see this as a “confrontation between play and seriousness”. It is simply an attempt to brighten up a small aspect of people’s lives. When you think about it, is it really any different than painting beautiful pictures on the walls of a subway in bright colours? I don’t think so. I’m with Gabriella on this one.

    (Now, if only they could design a rocket-propelled slide to shoot me up and out onto the street, preferably next to a coffee stand.)



  20. Lianne says:

    Love it!!!

  21. Richard says:

    Beautiful, this puts a smile on your face in the everyday same/same. Who knows where to buy this slide, it looks like a standard product.

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