Case Study: Way To Go

Brand Awareness and Commuter Engagement

Way to Go is the transportation demand management program of Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) that encourages smarter commuting options, reduces single-occupancy vehicle miles traveled, and works to change Denver metro-area commuter behavior.

In an effort to further the organization’s mission and achieve its traffic congestion and air quality goals, Denver-based brand agency COHN was tasked with improving brand awareness and customer engagement.


Objective:Develop a behavior-change campaign aimed at reducing single-occupancy vehicle miles traveled.


Industry Insight:

  • No one has found the “silver bullet” to incite large-scale, smart commuting change.

Audience Insight:

  • Commuters: "Give me solutions and make them relevant"
  • Employers: Gatekeepers to incentivizing smart commuting

Brand/Way to Go Insight:

  • (+ TMA’s) are the only consistent resource for employers but one of ~40 voices fighting for consumer attention.

Denver Market/"Competitors" Insight:

  • The modal benefits are not consistent enough on their own to incite change

Overall Insight:

  • Employers pull the commuter strings (and we have clout with employers)


Primary Target Audience: B:B

  • Companies and organizations with 100+ employees located in Denver MSA
  • Target Profiles: Human Resources / Recruitment / Employee Benefits / Director of People & Culture / Program Coordinator / Facilities Management / General Administrative / Office Manager / Sustainability Coordinator / Sustainability Program Manager / Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC)

Secondary Target Audience: B:C

  • Employees 25-54 years old who are employed within the Denver MAS
  • Target Profiles: Employees / Young Professionals / New to Denver

bus commuter teaser
carpool color teaser
morning commute teaser
bicycle teaser


In researching various behavior-change methodologies and studies as a “best fit” for the Denver metro community, two related ideas bubbled to the top:

  • Normalizing smart commuting
  • Connecting more personally with our audience

Together, these ideas make up Collectivism—creating social norms of appropriate and desirable behavior. Our approach was to identify real commuters from a multitude of backgrounds, industries, lifestyles, etc. and make them (and their stories) the heroes of the campaign.

bicycle billboard

Strategic Approach:


Growth is a hot topic in the Denver region, and no matter how much people complain about it, it’s not going to change. Let’s empower Denver to join the movement and be part of the solution.


We will have a bigger impact by working with experts, influencers and mobility organizations than by working alone. Let’s make partnerships a top priority.


Let’s bundle our funding and external resources/partners plus focus on fewer initiatives that drive bigger results to help stretch our budget.


Media Mix:

Traditional, Digital, OOH

Supporting Outreach:

Public Relations / Social Media / Podcast (They Went Thataway) / Email

Activations & Micro Campaigns:

Go-Tober, Bike to Work Day/Bike To Wherever Day (2020), Telework Tomorrow, Influencer Initiative + #SummerBikeChallenge, SchoolPool, VanPool/VanCool

B:B + Telework Tomorrow

  • SEM: 10%
  • Print: 10%
  • Paid Social: 39%
  • Digital/Geotargeting: 41%


B:C + Content/ Podcast

  • SEM: 6.3%
  • Paid Social: 12.6%
  • Digital/Geotargeting: 20.9%
  • TV: 60.2%


Bike to Work Day / Influencers

  • SEM: 6.7%
  • Paid Social: 13.3%
  • Digital: 19.2%
  • TV: 18.2%
  • Radio: 42.7%



  • SEM: 5%
  • Paid Social: 27%
  • Digital: 26%
  • Print: 21%
  • TV: 21%


SchoolPool / VanPool

  • Paid Social: 40%
  • Digital: 60%


Campaign Execution:

Real Results:


Increase in user registrations on


Increase in commute trips logged on


Increase in smart commute miles logged on


Increase in dollars saved by smart commutes logged on


We wanted to create a “safe” and systematic entry point for commuters to generate trial of alternate modes of transportation over an extended period of time. We knew employers were our best gateway to access commuters. We also knew that you have to do something at least 4x to create a new habit, so we challenged companies with 100+ employees to get as many employees as possible to commute smarter at least once a week throughout October. Participants earn points for each trip tracked and are rewarded throughout the challenge.

Real Results:


Participating companies


Employee participants


Smart commutes logged on


Smart commute miles traveled


Tons of C02 saved


Calories burned

Solution:Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day is one of Way to Go’s biggest events of the year, highlighting the “fun” in bike commuting while also driving trial in a comfortable, group-like atmosphere. The event helps commuters identify the best bike routes and practices. With over 30K participants each year, COHN was tasked to get participants to understand the importance of registering for the day of the event, as well as extending the “bike to work” behavior beyond the one-day event.

Real Results:


Largest bike to work day event in the country


Increase in participation


Increase in PR mentions


Of people who participated said they were more motivated to bike to work more often

Solution:Targeted Employer Outreach Campaigns

Way to Go is tasked with reducing traffic congestion, specifically during peak traffic times. To reach the commuter audience, we engage with a region-wide outreach team including nine Transportation Management Associations (TMAs). These programs tend to be hyper-niche (location, specific problem, etc.) and allow us to reach commuters on a more granular level. Some recent initiatives include:

  • Hosted a co-branded carpool/vanpool campaign along the US 36 corridor that resulted in

― Result: 185 new carpool applications

  • Launched a "Find your 3rd" carpool campaign upon the opening of the HOV 3 lanes

― 6.5K activation impressions and 88 new registrations

Solution:Telework Tomorrow

Just weeks after launching, Governor Jared Polis incorporated the Telework Tomorrow campaign into his Can Do Colorado initiative. The telework program has seen steady participation with continued interest as businesses are coming up on office space leases. In addition, they had these media hits.

Real Results:

In partnerships with the Denver Regional Council of Governments and Colorado Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), we conducted a member survey to determine how employers were adapting to the COVID-19 outbreak. Here’s what we learned:


Felt offering telework options was essential to business continuity during the stay-at-home order


Of senior management and 73% of supervisory-level management view telework more favorably today than they had before


Expect to permit teleworking after the COVID-19 outbreak


Already or plan to develop a formal, written policy on telework

Solution:Influencer Initiative + #SummerBikeChallenge

We tapped into a select group of local influencers to drive greater awareness and encourage “biking” trial. These influencers weren’t cycling celebrities or marathon gurus but, rather, everyday commuters who could speak to the relatable challenges of transporting families, swapping the car for quick errands, and navigating streets on two wheels. By accessing these nano-influencers as expert storytellers, we sought to showcase Way to Go as an accessible, attainable goal for our region, and help introduce new riders along the way.

While our influencers focused on encouraging “trial rides”, COHN wanted to ensure our organic social media efforts also drove participation. We launched the #SummerBikeChallenge, a photo competition that included weekly prizes for the best bike “transportation” image.

  • We collected over 1,000 community images that were aggregated into an interactive digital mosaic and shared via social and on the Way to Go website.

Real Results:




Social comments


Unique accounts


Contributed growth of 49 posts under the dedicated @drcog_waytog Instagram account


Custom blog posts




Dedicated story frames


Increased trial rides in the Denver region