If you live in an urban area, you know the drill. You pay a fortune to park your car, legally and otherwise. It requires deep knowledge of arcane rules and regulations, multi-colored curbs, hidden fire hydrants and, perhaps worst of all, street cleaning signs more difficult to decipher than a Fibonacci sequence.

DaVinci

(Picture courtesy of Sony Pictures)

“I’m supposed to park where, on what day, at what time? Get me the Vatican.”

San Francisco-based MetroMile decided enough was enough. The company offers a service that lets you harness all the data locked inside your car to help drivers save time, money and stress. The service also performs helpful tasks like diagnosing your Check Engine light, and helping you find your car the morning after a long night of debauchery (after you’ve gotten a Lyft or Uber’d your way home, of course).

They do this through a small device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port, coupled with a mobile app, which acts as a window into your driving data.

As part of the app, MetroMile launched a feature that gives you a heads up when your car is in the crosshairs of that ticket-inducing menace, the street sweeper. The MetroMile app is all, “Hey, you’re in a street sweeping zone and about to get a ticket, go move your car!” And you’re all, “Thanks, MetroMile!”

To launch the app feature in Chicago last month, Airfoil was charged with getting local media interested, and most importantly local broadcast, given the latter has historically driven the most significant increases in app downloads.

The problem: apps are ubiquitous, nearly impossible to differentiate and, for the most part, not very visually compelling. So MetroMile and Airfoil put together something more attention grabbing than an app store update – a ticket exchange.

Partnering with local hero/crusader The Ticket Geek, MetroMile offered Chicago residents the chance to come downtown one sunny afternoon to exchange street cleaning parking tickets for the cash value of the fine – 60 bucks each. The looks on the faces of the ticketed were priceless. Some even offered hugs in return.

The results: local CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates, and Telemundo all covered the event. Popular local online and print outlets ran stories as well, including Chicagoist, Red Eye, Comcast Chicago, and of course The Expired Meter.

The clean sweep* of broadcast coverage led to increased visibility for MetroMile’s service in the Chicago area, and contributed to an increase in app downloads.

Better still, the event reflected MetroMile’s ideal brand image: having the local community’s back, surprising and delighting customers, and providing unique services to make people’s lives easier.

Available now in California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, MetroMile will arrive in additional markets throughout the year, so keep an eye out – for MetroMile, and this guy:

 

metromile

(Picture courtesy of Red Eye Chicago & Chicago Tribune)

*Don’t worry, ‘Foilers, deposited a dollar in the Pun Jar for this violation