Advertisers including Accenture, acnOrbitz owwand Microsoft msftXbox will greet the Thanksgiving throng of air travelers with flashy, interactive, high-definition airport advertising.
The companies that control the wall spaces and displays in the country's 500 commercial airports have been upgrading their offerings from static posters and billboards to digital displays marketers are using to spew news, talk to people or blast music and images.
This week they'll compete for the attention of the 27 million people the Air Transport Association estimates will travel by air Nov. 16-27.
"The digital medium is in its infancy in out-of-home advertising," says Bernard Parisot, CEO of ad company JCDecaux North America. "We are working with advertisers to find the best ways to use this medium to make the most out of it."
Airport advertising is on the rise, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).
"Airports have a captive audience," says Steve Freitas, vice president of marketing for OAAA. "The content can be a little deeper and richer because consumers have more time to stop, which makes storytelling more compelling."
That audience also is captive far longer that in the past: Parisot estimates people average two hours in commercial airports before flights depart, double the time before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"When you are departing and have to go through security, you spend a lot more time than you used to," he says. "Airports are much more attractive to advertisers because they have more time to communicate with their target audience.
Taking flight with digital ads:
•Xbox. More than a million people a month move through an underground, 600-foot corridor in Terminal 9 at New York's John F. Kennedy International. Microsoft has lined the tunnel with 7,000 square feet of advertising created by ad buyer Universal McCann in San Francisco. The space includes 40 Samsung 70-inch, high-definition screens and 100 speakers and has featured campaigns for Vista and Office PC software, but Friday a campaign for Xbox 360 went up for the holidays. "If you can make it a fun experience, the audience is like, 'Holy cow,' and we are, like, 'We gotcha.' " says Robert Martin, Universal McCann group communications director.
•Orbitz. A campaign by the travel service company touts TLC, a service for mobile devices that provides airport and weather updates and tips from other passengers.
To promote the service rolled out in September, Orbitz has ads on digital screens that show people sitting in an airport. When a traveler stands in front of the ad, a sensor causes the person in the ad to stand up and talk about TLC. Displays are in Houston, Miami and Orlando airports.
"The ads are physically engaging," says Randy Susan Wagner, chief marketing officer. The interaction "gets attention and provides entertainment, and that's really important."
•Accenture. Interactive 7-foot-by-10-foot displays are in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and JFK. They are housed in giant custom frames and use graphics and touch-screen technology to let people choose to watch news, weather or sports. Accenture spokesman Tiger Woods is featured, and the displays also offer stories and stats about Woods.
"The high-definition, on-demand video screens let people watch content that they choose," says Teresa Poggenpohl, head of global advertising and brand management. "We all get stuck at the airport. It's engaging and enables our target audience to interact with our brand."
A plus for Accenture: An in-house tech team created the software, so the ad promotes Accenture and shows what it can do. "It's a powerful demonstration of the innovation that we bring to our clients," Poggenpohl says.
NEW & NOTABLE
Adding up America.
Advertisers who want to glean some extra insights about Joe and Jane Consumer should grab a copy of this week's Time magazine, which went on sale Friday.
With an "America by the Numbers" theme, the issue is chock full of tidbits such as the fact that there are more TVs in the average U.S. household than there are people (2.73 to 2.6). Another factoid that might interest marketers: The average American watches three hours of TV a day, but exercises a mere 17 minutes.
On a personal note, The Ad Team memorized a slew of consumer tidbits we can casually drop during Thanksgiving dinner conversation. Among our planned talking points: Each day Americans buy 568,764 Titleist golf balls, 210,720 30-ounce jars of Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise and 160,968 bottles of Absolut vodka.
Ringing up sales.
Facing sluggish apparel sales, J.C. Penney jcp has come up with a novel way to jump-start shoppers and the holiday shopping season on Friday.
Penney's 1,067 stores will open with so-called door-buster specials at 4 a.m. To make sure they don't miss out, holiday shoppers can sign up starting today for a crack-of-dawn wake-up call from Penney to rouse them for so-called Black Friday, named for the day when retailers traditionally go into the black for the year.
The would-be early birds just have to enter the time they want to get up at jcpgifts.com and they'll get a recorded call: "Rise and shine! It's time to start shopping and saving."
Given that most consumers will be sleeping off an overload of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie — a wake-up call and a big cup of java seem to be two necessities to get in the shopping spirit.
Sassy baby outfits with wise-crack slogans have been popular in the USA. Now they're heading overseas.
Brand New Baby Wear of Minneapolis is shipping wisenheimer "onesies" — one-piece infant suits — to stores in the U.K., Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, co-owner Darren Leet says. Among this year's popular expressions:
• "What happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's" (a takeoff on Las Vegas' slogan).
• "Love Sucks"
The $24 onesies for newborns to 2-year-olds are sold at brandnewbabywear.com.
Channeling your inner Scrooge.
Last holiday season, more than 11 million people turned themselves into dancing elves with OfficeMax's omx "elf yourself" promotion. This year, the retailer is not only bringing back the ElfYourself.com site, it will launch a ScroogeYourself.com.
To do either, consumers can upload a photo of themselves and their face will appear on the body of a cute dancing elf — or, this year, on a top-hat-wearing old curmudgeon. Videos of the characters can be e-mailed to friends. The sites were created by OfficeMax ad agencies Toy New York and EVB.
Toy partner Ari Merkin says Scrooge was added because: "We wanted a site for users who think there might be just a little too much holiday cheer going around."
By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz
ASK THE AD TEAM
Q: What's the song on the Visa ad with juggling toys?
A: The holiday ad set in a busy toy store uses Breakfast Machine, composed by Danny Elfman and performed by John Coleman and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. If it sounds familiar, you may have to admit you saw the 1985 film Pee-wee's Big Adventure. In the ad, the rhythm of the store (and the song) are thrown off when a woman starts to pay with a check instead of her Visa card.
"Music plays a driving role" in Visa's holiday ads, says Jeremy Miller, spokesman for agency TBWA/Chiat/Day. "The right music demonstrates the convenience of using Visa. … In this ad, the music conveys the sense of anticipation and joy from holiday shopping and provides a whimsical backdrop needed to bring the toy store to life."