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Yep, That’s an Indiana Jones Movie Announcement on Your Subway Platform

"Announcement systems should only be used for actual important transit announcements."

2:49 PM EDT on June 20, 2023

Harrison Ford rides a horse as Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones makes an appearance in the NYC subway system in the new movie (Screenshot)

What's the German word for the feeling of struggling to hear muffled subway announcements your whole life before waking up one day and standing on the platform waiting for your train and suddenly hearing the Indiana Jones theme song blasted in your ears while "movie ad guy voice" tells you in perfect elocution that you can see the fifth installment of the series in 10 days?

On Tuesday, subway riders across town—who are already bracing for a fare hike later this year—reported hearing this 12-second advertisement for "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" played on their platforms.

Given that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is already spamming our brains with viral videos of "Brieghetti Pie," this new assault on our attention spans in the public sphere was met with anger and derision.

We asked the MTA a list of questions, including:

Where are the ads being played? How often? What are the regulations around audio advertisements? How much is the MTA charging for this privilege? Is there a reason that these advertisements sound clearer than service announcements made by station attendants? 

An MTA spokesperson referred most of those questions to Outfront Media, the company that oversees advertising on our public transit system.

"Multiple audio announcements and ads have played in subway stations during the past two years, both paid advertising sold by Outfront and MTA-specific messaging recorded by a guest (comic, singer, personality, etc)," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "Service messages always take priority and will be heard whenever they are needed." (As for why these movie announcements sound so much better than subway-related ones, the MTA insists that everything is played through the same equipment and speakers, though admits that the age of the equipment varies from station to station.)

Reps from Outfront and Disney have not yet responded to our requests for comment. In a trailer for the film, Indiana Jones rides a horse down into the 59th Street/Lexington Avenue station and then races a speeding subway car.

"When riders hear a voice over the station loudspeaker, they expect to hear useful and relevant updates that will help them get from point A to point B smoothly. For most of us, that doesn’t include learning about Indiana Jones’s next adventure," Kara Gurl, the planning and advocacy manager from the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, a riders advocacy group, wrote to Hell Gate in a statement. "Advertising has its place in the transit system—especially when it brings in much-needed revenue—but loudspeakers should be reserved for timely information about service, delays, and safety."

For more answers on the ad campaign, we turned to Sylveon, a transit enthusiast who records subway announcements as a hobby. Sylveon reported that the ads are playing on subway platforms across New York City, at 10-, 11-, and 12-minute intervals, depending on the subway line ("I timed it," he wrote in a DM.)

Sylveon could only vaguely recall one other audio ad in the subway over the past two years—"I remember one back in November last year for 'Quantum Leap'" (there was also "The Lion King" campaign of 2021) but did have a thought on the MTA's use of their public broadcasting system for advertising purposes.

"Personally idrc, but it's kinda pointless," Sylveon wrote. "Announcement systems should only be used for actual important transit announcements."

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