By Art Marroquin
With the glut of advertisements hitting airline passengers everywhere from terminal walkways to in-flight magazines, companies will soon reach new heights in hawking their wares.
Signs the size of three football fields are expected to appear along the flight paths of Los Angeles International Airport and other hubs across the country as part of a marketing blitz crafted by Ad-Air, a London-based advertising agency.
The signs would lie flat on the ground and are expected to be spotted by passengers aboard flights coming in and out of LAX as soon as next year, according to Kate Rosser, an Ad-Air spokeswoman.
The company plans to unveil the first ads in the United Arab Emirates, beginning with Dubai next month, and eventually moving to some of the world's busiest airports - London's Heathrow, Chicago's O'Hare, Tokyo's Narita, Paris' Charles de Gaulle and LAX.
"We'll be reaching millions of airline passengers in their seats and millions more through the power of word of mouth," said Paul Jenkins, Ad-Air's managing director. "Ad-Air will be offering advertisers a simply unprecedented marketing opportunity and creative agencies a unique canvas to work with."
Ad-Air executives said they hope to cash in on grabbing the attention of affluent passengers during take-off and landing, a time when table trays are turned up, personal electronic equipment must be turned off and there's not much left to do - except maybe look out the window.
However, the content of such mega-size advertisements may actually turn off some passengers, who tend to be more educated and earn more money than the average consumer, according to Ira Weinstein, president of Airport Interviewing and Research, based in White Plains, N.Y.
"There are some things that are in good taste, but something like this sounds really intrusive and won't be very welcomed by the discerning airline passenger," Weinstein said. "These signs might be effective in getting the word out on a new product, but it's a bad idea because it just might reflect poorly on the airport, the city and the residents."
Officials at LAX said they have not heard about the proposal, saying that it will likely be met with skepticism by the airport and those living in the surrounding communities.
The supersized signs will be posted on private property, but Ad- Air executives declined to say which sites they are negotiating with.
The giant ads will be printed on a fabric mesh-type material and suspended on low-level scaffolds to ensure that the signs are displayed flat and evenly.
It could cost companies about $160,000 or more a month to post the large ads, with contracts lasting six months to a year, according to Rosser.
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The news comes as LAX is projected to lose nearly 20 percent of its flights and 13 percent of available airline seats this month, compared with a year ago.