When we began work on the 1995 promotion for the Abbotsford International Airshow, we took deliberate steps toward the package we were presenting. Firstly, we looked at the big picture — what does the airshow mean to the public? Why do people attend, and why don’t they? Accordingly, we developed direction — concept, form, graphics, and copy. These elements build an equation for success; we understand the calculations.
Consequently, we determined the aspects of the airshow that patrons have always found most attractive. There are many forms of entertainment vying for customers’ dollars — what does the Abbotsford Airshow offer that convinces them to spend their dollars on airshow tickets? It’s the raw power of the flying machines — the WOW factor. That being the case, we want a message that reflects explosive excitement — something as loud and machine-gun as the jets that blast across the sky.
Using bold fonts that scream from the page and beg to be read, we asked a provocative question on each page that made the casual reader suddenly interested. In each case, the question teases and amuses. Of course, in each case, the answer is always the “Abbotsford Airshow,” underlining the event and associating it with the dynamic imagery of the advertising.
Straightaway, the marketing campaign began with a corporate folder and promo sheets promoting tailored-to-fit, catered, private viewing accommodations. Surprisingly, I learned of its effectiveness before receiving the client’s sales results when my wife saw it prioritized by her boss—somebody placed on the top of her boss’s stack of work files at the law firm she worked at. A few weeks later, we learned that the private areas had sold out one month earlier than any previous year.
Remember, while telling stories to your audience, it’s essential to use comparative illustrations to get your point across. Also, it’s a great way to evoke an emotional response, leaving a lasting impression. Unquestionably, this is why this approach was successful for our client.
Obviously, loud and boisterous describe best what was achieved using a combination of Futura in ALL-CAPS with full justification. Instantly readable headlines were set in red, grabbing the reader’s attention with PURE FIRE AIR, THRILLS, and SPEED. Moreover, these headlines were woven into a different question on each page. Firstly, Barnum & Bailey. Secondly, Houdini. And thirdly, Godzilla. Certainly, each of these three historic entertainers invoked a powerful spectacle in the audience. However, while they were terrific and classic … they couldn’t take flight like an airshow can.
Therefore, developing practical, relatable experiences for any unique media elements of a campaign is essential. For example, a simple device I used was connecting the literal envelope when I had the opportunity. We included a pre-stamped PURE FIRE ENVELOPE for customers to use when mailing back their requests for accommodations. “Pushing the envelope” was such a natural fit for this piece.
As a valued sponsor of the Abbotsford Airshow, Safeway offered discounted VIP seating packages. This method reached most readers in the lower mainland in the 90s—long before social media, it’s true. While reading this hard-sell flyer, note the opportunities when selling seats, parking, express routes, and Coca-Cola. Furthermore, it was over-the-top, harkening back to ringleaders driving carnival sales—P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey. Making grandiose claims became easy when comparing other famous loudmouths.
“SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!”
“A full day of the World’s Best in aviation excitement.”
“There is no greater show on or above the earth and no better place from which to watch it than from reserved front-line VIP Seating!”
Highlighting the keywords PURE FIRE AIR, THRILLS, and SPEED throughout the marketing campaign was reinforced every time a sip of Coke was taken.