Reigniting interest in a long-standing holiday tradition leading to record-breaking ridership in the midst of competing holiday events.


The Challenge

Amid rainstorms, a new Warming House location and a growing list of activities for families to partake in while downtown, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival’s long-standing Jingle Bus service was in need of a public awareness boost to remind past patrons of the cost-friendly service and introduce new audiences to its value.

The Outcome

Through public relations efforts, WaterStreet Creative was able to assist the six-week festival in bringing the Jingle Bus service back to the top of families’ to-do lists. The impacts of this informational campaign resulted in all-time highs in nightly ridership and a steady increase in ridership for the remainder of the festival.



For 20 seasons, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 has brightened downtown visits in November and December with the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival. The Jingle Bus, a 40-minute narrated tour that connects guests to downtown landmarks and the most brilliantly lit scenes, is one of the festival’s most popular attractions.


At just $2 per person, with discounted parking available in an adjacent structure, the Jingle Bus has been touted as one of downtown Milwaukee’s most convenient modes of transportation. Bad weather coupled with the City’s new and free streetcar system, which made its debut just two weeks before the festival’s kick-off, was beginning to impact Jingle Bus service.


In addition, a new six-week holiday market was unveiled at the recently opened Fiserv Forum. With several new attractions for guests to check out, patrons were fulfilling their curiosities at these novel destinations.



Creating a Dialogue 

WaterStreet Creative utilized traditional public relations tactics to give the service boosted recognition. After connecting with producers and reporters, WaterStreet Creative was able to create dialogue around a tradition two decades in the making, resulting in print, broadcast and online mentions and interviews.

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Engaging Community

To capture and showcase the unique experience of riders on the Jingle Bus, WSC collaborated with local agency Social Candy to shoot a short promotional video for Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21's website and promote across the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival social media pages.


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The Results 

Through media outreach efforts, WaterStreet Creative was able to secure multiple live and pre-recorded TV and radio segments, to the tune of over 789,000 impressions, leading to all-time highs in nightly readership and a steady increase in ridership for the remainder of the festival.


  • Record-breaking ridership in 3-hour span – increasing 37% from 2017
  • Over 789,000 impressions from media covering the Jingle Bus
  • Over $37,000 of earned media coverage in one week’s time

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