9:45 PM EST, November 16, 2011
As the Super Bowl in Indianapolis draws closer, one Indianapolis company says its airplane advertising business is taking off.
"These are 7-foot tall letters," said Red Calvert, co-owner of Pro-Air Enterprises. "This banner is about 100-foot long."
Calvert and his business partner, Harry Goss, have at least 27 years experience pulling massive banners with small airplanes. They've enjoyed steady business thanks to some big events like the Indianapolis 500, but they said nothing compares to the upcoming Super Bowl.
"We've gotten lots of phone calls," Calvert said.
Pro-Air Enterpises, has a fleet of four planes and two of them are already booked solid for the week of the Super Bowl. That's why they decided to bring in two more.
"This has probably got the largest interest of anything," Calvert said. "I'd expect about four airplanes downtown about all the time."
Calvert said pulling a banner or an airborne billboard will cost anywhere from $700-$2,000 an hour, and he said jobs during Super Bowl week will run on the high side.
"I imagine $1,500 an hour is going to be an average," Calvert said.
Though the air advertising is unconventional, one marketing expert said it will get you noticed.
"It's all about getting attention," said Kim Donahue, a marketing professor for IU Kelley School of Business. "If you can get people to look at you then you're going to accomplish your goal. Who doesn't look at a plane?"
But is it worth it?
"Compare it to advertising on television," DOnahue said. "You pay millions for 30 seconds. Oh, it's worth it."
No matter what it costs, advertising in the airspace around Lucas Oil Stadium is not guaranteed. The weather in February can sometimes make flying those huge banners impossible, in which case planes won't fly.
"Normally, we're closed down in January and February," Calvert said. "We can get all kinds of business for it, but if Mother Nature's not good to us, we'll get weathered out."
A handful of companies including Pro-Air Enterprises, locally, and AirSign Aerial Advertising, nationally, are already promising everything from airplanes to blimps. Though some multi-national companies are signed up, Calvert said he's also been in talks with local businesses and event promoters.