Airport may allow upscale terminal ads
The Martha's Vineyard Airport commission is considering a marketing company's proposal to sell advertising space at the airport. The Vineyard's affluent aviation travelers are the target audience.
Luxury Media Partners (LMP), a Connecticut-based company, sees a lucrative marketing niche in travelers to certain select resort community airports. The firm said it has created a successful marketing model designed to attract luxury brand advertisers and wants to enlist the Vineyard.
LMP signed a three-year agreement with East Hampton Town airport in New York last year. Now it hopes to add Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket airports to the mix.
LMP representatives presented their proposal in the form of a 16-page handout to a receptive Vineyard airport commission at a meeting on Sept. 3.
The airport commission land use subcommittee will accept comments when it meets at 5 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the airport general aviation building. The full commission is expected to vote when it meets on October 15. One option under consideration is a one-year trial.
The subject of advertising was raised during the airport budget process, said airport manager Sean Flynn. Airport commissioners see advertising as a source of outside revenue that could be used to support airport services.
It is not a new concept. Past proposals envisioned more commercial saturation than the airport commissioners would accept or were made in the form of individual company requests, MR. Flynn said.
There is also a cultural question. How much and what type of advertising are Vineyarders willing to accept in spaces that were previously free of advertising in exchange for generating revenue? Mr. Flynn said it is a question the Steamship Authority wrestled with and appears to have resolved satisfactorily.
At the request of the commissioners, Mr. Flynn explored the options. He told The Times that "low saturation" advertising could provide a beneficial revenue source in the future. "Obviously the revenue streams for airports are becoming more and more constrained as less and less people fly and that is not just here, that is everywhere," he said. "If it is found to be appropriate it is a good revenue stream for the airport."
Advertising industry veterans Brian Pussilano and James Joyella of Luxury Media Partners presented their company's proposal at a meeting on September 3. Mr. Pussiliano said LMP would only solicit luxury brands that are acceptable to the airport. LMP would absorb all capital expenses and share revenue on a 50-50 basis.
Advertising would be placed on small billboards facing the tarmac and visible to arriving passengers. Video displays would be placed inside the terminal. The company estimates first-year revenue would be between $100,000 and $200,000.
As described in the presentation material, the sales appeal rests in the fact that the three resort airports LMP has approached "draw the wealthiest segment of residents and visitors. They are all passengers of private jets, charters and commercial aircraft making them an audience with unique demographic, consumption and lifestyle characteristics that are highly desirable to luxury sponsors."
Mr. Pussiliano said this target audience consumes media in different ways than average folks and would respond well to the type of subtle and tasteful luxury brand message his company expects to provide.
The commission was concerned that local businesses not be shut out. Mr. Pussiliano said LCD screens placed inside the terminal would provide a less expensive option for Island merchants. Under discussion are five or six static displays and two LCD screens.
At the end of the presentation the commissioners had several questions but generally expressed approval. John Alley of West Tisbury, long-time airport commissioner and county commissioner, was enthusiastic. "It is a great idea and something that is overdue," he said.
Mr. Pussiliano said it was important that a decision be made as soon as possible so LMP could begin approaching national advertisers who are now planning budgets.
Concept has appeal
In a telephone conversation Tuesday, airport commission chairman Frank Gildea of West Tisbury said the airport faces the need to do a variety of projects for which there is less money available. The commissioners asked Mr. Flynn to research what other airports were doing, he said, and that led to contacts with Nantucket and East Hampton two airports already contacted by LMP.
Mr. Gildea said the commission is not planning to hold a public hearing on the proposal, but the commissioners welcome public comment either at a meeting or in writing. If the commission decides to move forward, the effort will be small and modest in nature on a trial basis, he added.
"We are not looking to blanket the airport at all," said Mr. Gildea. "I would envision if we proceed, and again it is up to the full commission to decide that, that we would do it on a one-year trial basis and see how it all works out."
The LMP strategy is to package the Vineyard, Nantucket, and East Hampton airports. In August, Media Partners made a proposal to the Nantucket airport commission.
Foley Vaughan, Nantucket airport commission chairman, told The Times Tuesday that his sense of the meeting is that the commissioners were not interested. While he said he could not speak for the commission, he opposes the displays, and pointed out that the signs currently found at the airport are for informational purposes. "It's too in your face for Nantucket," he said.
At East Hampton, LMP installed five freestanding exterior L.E.D. light boxes, and interior monitors. According to local news reports, prices for the advertisements ranged from $101,538 for a 22-week season for the largest light boxes, to $1,153 weekly for a TV spot.
Lynn Ryan, East Hampton executive assistant, told The Times yesterday that the advertising displays are well done and have generated no controversy. "They are not garish and there is not a lot of text and that is kind of the way we wanted it," she said.