Nov 19, 2009 at 05:14 PM
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AirTran To Sell Seat Back Ads

Marketers looking for a captive audience will have the ultimate opportunity with AirTran.

AirTran, who has been on a recent sponsorship tear, partnering with many of the Southeast's professional sports teams, will be the first U.S. airline to install this FAA-approved advertising device.

AirTran Airways, today announced plans to outfit all of its 138 Boeing jets with seat back advertising.

During the next two weeks, each seat will be outfitted with a 2 and 1/2 X 9 inch, easily-changeable, full-color, advertisement. Mother Nature Network is the first advertising partner, offering a chance to win a seven-night, deluxe cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.

"We are pleased to be able to offer exclusive deals and other promotions to our customers through this unique medium," said Tad Hutcheson, AirTran Airways' vice president of marketing and sales. "We have gone to great lengths to present these advertisements in a tasteful, unobtrusive way that we believe customers will enjoy." Unlike other in-cabin advertisements, these messages will be fully visible to passengers throughout the boarding, taxi, takeoff, landing, and deplaning phases, offering companies a unique opportunity to reach consumers for periods ranging from a minimum of approximately 40 minutes to several hours depending on the length of the flight.

"The fact that AirTran offers Wi-Fi on every flight, combined with this new and innovative advertising platform, convinced us this was a perfect marketing opportunity for an online brand like ours," said Joel Babbit, CEO of Mother Nature Network. MNN, launched earlier this year by Babbit and Rolling Stones keyboardist and noted eco-activist Chuck Leavell, has enjoyed explosive growth and is ranked as one the world's five most visited, non-governmental Web sites devoted to environmental news and information. Added Babbit, "To communicate our message to every passenger, on every flight, represents real and immediate value."

The patent-pending, self-enclosed, advertising system is provided by the OnBoard Media Group, an Atlanta-based, aviation media company and is in use by more than 10 airlines worldwide, including Jet Airways in India and Air Arabia in Dubai.

AirTran Airways will have final approval of all ads and will ensure offers and messages are consistent with the airline's family-friendly atmosphere. Ads can be changed in minutes, enabling frequent changes and new messages.

As the transportation leaders become sellers of sponsorship and advertising, how will this change their relationships with traditional sponsorship properties like sports teams?

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