Proofs of love – the Wuppertal suspension railroad crisis communication


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Wuppertal and its suspension railroad – that’s a real love story. Accordingly, people were very upset when the popular landmark could no longer run due to technical problems. Although they were mainly caused by technical defects on the part of the manufacturer, the anger and frustration of the people of Wuppertal was directed at the operators – WSW.


Wuppertal was disappointed with its beloved suspension railroad. So we had an idea. We let the suspension railroad itself speak to the people, apologize and give them small and big tokens of love.


We used all available channels to combine two different communication approaches. Firstly, we communicated with the media and stakeholders proactively and delivered the information factually and matter-of-factly. Secondly, we addressed all Wuppertal inhabitants emotionally with a special campaign.


We knew that such a complex issue could not be solved by one simple poster. So we let the suspension railroad itself speak to the citizens and carried out many authentic and likeable actions over the course of a proof-of-love campaign. This took a lot of media and stakeholder work as well as precise political communication. We wrote an open letter to the citizens and even produced a video format with Axel Stein, a famous comedian from Wuppertal.


Our reputation analysis before the start of the project clearly shows the negative perception of WSW and the (media) blame for the failure, as well as the internal uncertainties and information leaks.

With open and differentiated communication, we were able to close the fronts internally and change the perception of WSW from being an obstructor to a driver of development. The problems were also named in the media and then remedied. Employees, the city and the region all backed the project goal of getting the monorail back on track. We were also able to stop and reverse the negative trend in subscription sales.

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