The New York Times ran an article recently about in-flight advertising. One sentence set the tone:
“As if flying wasn’t miserable enough,” the writer opined, “now, after being frisked at security, jockeying for overhead bin space, and squeezing into that remaining middle seat, passengers must endure a string of in-flight advertisements.”
There’s some truth in the statement, though. Consumers generally are suspect about the increasing bombardment of advertising. In-flight ads can be found on the security trays, ticket folders, cocktail napkins, tray tables, in-flight TVs, and air sickness bags. Even flight attendants hawk special offers as they walk the aisles.
Advertising has become a permanent fixture in the skies. One carrier, U.S. Airways, reported it tallies $20 million a year from onboard ads, according to the Times.
While effective, it’s important that the in-flight and airport media industry ensure in-flight and airport ads capture passenger attention – and keep them amused and interested.
That’s where creativity or even humor comes in. Creative hot shop Crispin Porter + Bogusky once placed a Mini Cooper on a pedestal in a mall (could just have easily been an airport terminal) – as if it were one of those quarter-a-shot pony rides. Multiple, humorous messages, games or riddles on the tray tables could invite conversation between passengers. Flight attendant could call out questions whose answers are on select trays. The prize: A free beverage.
Wrote the Times: A Tylenol PM tray table offered simple exercises passengers could do in their seat (knee lifts, foot rolls, etc.) to avoid stiffness.
To be sure, some advertising is intrusive. But recall is sky-high in a venue where passengers are captive for hours on end.
To counter passenger frustration, smart advertisers, airlines and airports are striving to make in-flight and in-terminal advertising / media as unobtrusive as possible. As a medium not fully defined as of yet, it's an evolving concept is becoming a humorous, even rewarding experience.
It’s up to skillful advertising creative talent to help ensure the message is well received – and remains effective for those marketers who have decided to fly with in-flight ads.