Overhead Ads: Flying Is More Like Riding a Bus Than Ever

When ABC debuted its new show “Pan Am” this fall, reviewers mentioned the long-gone glamour of jet travel when people dressed up to take flight. Flying today is about as chic as traveling by bus. Now new advertising programs like those being offered by Spirit Airlines and Ryan Air make the bus analogy all the more apt. Advertisers can now buy ads on overhead bins like the ads above the heads of strap hangers.

Overhead Bin Ads Airplanes Jets Spirit Ryan Air

The ads aren’t just overhead. For $14 million, you can even do an exterior “wrap,” and brand the outside of a Spirit Airlines plane just like you can the outside of a bus. You can also buy ads on tray tables, napkins, flight attendant aprons, ticket jackets, broadcast during the flight (Lincoln advertised on Delta’s preflight safety videos), and even on the barf bags.

Of course reports of backlash are everywhere. Industry experts claim fliers don’t like the ads and that airlines risk losing customers. Not likely. If ads keep fares low, people will grumble, but still book a ticket. There’s a long history of people grumbling about ads in places like movie theatres, but that hasn’t stopped them. And ads in modes of transportation are as old as public transportation itself.

Despite the inevitable grousing, the ads work. Spirit Airlines says that on-board ads have the higher recall rate than all other media. Spirit spokesperson Misty Pinson says, “These results are unachievable with traditional advertising mediums. We provide an environment where cellphones are turned off and the consumer is stationary with the ability to focus on nothing but your brand for an average of three hours.”

2 comments to Overhead Ads: Flying Is More Like Riding a Bus Than Ever

  • Mark M

    “on-board ads have higher recall than all other media” – not all recall is positive. There’s the chance that they will remember these ads and deliberately NOT purchase their goods or services because of negative ad exposure.

    High ad recall with negative associations is worse than no recall at all

  • LDMerriam

    Interesting thought. Not sure that high negative recall is worse than no recall. In public relations, the adage is the opposite is true. Could it be a case of “I don’t care what you call me as long as you call me?”

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