In-Flight Hostage Marketing

Last week, Robbin, Spike, Cordell and I flew US Air back and forth to Denver. What ensued during the flights is what I can only assume is the future of in-flight marketing.

traytable2.jpgAfter takeoff on the flight out, the flight attendant read a lengthy infomercial about signing up for a US Air credit card and then handed out the applications and pens. She then tried to sell headphones for $5 (You, Me & Dupree was the movie – my sympathies) and sandwiches or fun boxes for an additional $5. When the “free” beverage service began, the flight attendants then handed out $1 off Cold Stone Creamery Cards and napkins with more marketing messages on them. Spike wondered if you could try to gather 5 of the $1 off cards and turned them in for a $5 fun box.
On the flight back, there were different elements in play. Ice cream coupons were gone, but instead a new line of flavored Splenda for coffee had purchased overlays on every tray table. I’m thinking the next step from there is infomercials the whole way with the sound on – which is what Disney already does on their 40 minute “free” shuttle from the airport to their Orlando properties.

What does this do for the companies who are buying it? A captive audience is a probably an efficient way to buy awareness – I can’t change the station and there’s no where to run at 35,000 feet – but what does it do for credibility? Frankly, I’m a little worried about Cold Stone Creamery after seeing that they’re going to these lengths to coupon me.
How are other marketers using the airlines new-found creativity? Is there any such thing as too far?  I’m flying again for Thanksgiving and I just can’t wait to see what’s next.

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