Economic Downturn Spurs a Mini-Boom in Aerial Banners

PHOTO: "Downgrade hurts but USD no ruble. Always be frugal," was the message on the banner over the Financial District, August 11, 2011, paid for by Jon Lal, 43, a Boston-based businessman who runs a website, befrugal.com.
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Bad economic news has been good business for one entrepreneur who runs an aerial advertising company.

Justin Jaye, owner of flysigns.com, said he's had 50 to 60 more requests than usual today after Lucy Nobbe, a St. Louis mom and investment banker, paid his company to fly a banner over Wall Street on Tuesday. That banner read, "Thanks for the Downgrade. You Should All Be Fired."

Nobbe's sign inspired a second banner over Wall Street today -- this one from a believer in the U.S. dollar, someone who wants to promote a website he owns.

"Downgrade hurts but USD no ruble. Always be frugal," was the message on the banner over the Financial District at lunchtime, paid for by Jon Lal, 43, a Boston-based businessman who runs Befrugal.com, aimed at consumers who want to save money.

Nobbe, who was furious over politicians' dithering on the debt ceiling, originally intended for the banner to soar over Washington, D.C., but discovered that there's a no-fly zone over the capital.

"She obviously has some strong feelings about what's happening on Wall Street and the country as a whole," said Lal. "We have our own take on that topic." He characterized his banner as "a more measured way of looking at the situation."

"At the end of the day, it is a little scary to have this dire event that's never happened before," Lal said of the Standard and Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt last week. "I think some perspective would be helpful to everybody. There is no need to panic."

Jaye, whose company is based in LA, said on Wednesday that reaction to the first banner was overwhelming. He's flown thousands of banners in 20 years in the business, and "not one has struck a chord...as much as this one," he said.

Lal's two-year-old company offers discount coupons and cashback deals as well as what he called "tools to help you be frugal," like fly/drive calculators for travelling. ,

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