SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/This Weeks News

Goodyear’s NCAA advertising plans take flight

Goodyear will be putting some serious miles on its three blimps during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Tied to its “Get There” advertising campaign, which launched last month at the Daytona 500, Goodyear is sending its blimps and other aerial coverage assets to eight of the 12 tournament sites during the first two weekends of play, covering more than 30 games for CBS.

At locales where Goodyear will have aerial coverage without a blimp, it will use fixed-wing aircraft or tethered inflatable balloonlike equipment to show the views from high above the venues.

In all, Goodyear’s blimps and other aircraft will tally 5,037 miles covering the tournament.

“We’ve looked back and we can’t find a time when our coverage was so geographically diverse,” said Joey Viselli, director of the Goodyear brand. “It’s a real logistical challenge. The blimps will be in the air almost continuously.”

Goodyear’s “blimp pops” also will scroll across CBS’s screens during tournament coverage when the aerial views are available. Goodyear debuted the “blimp pops” — graphical cut-ins during the broadcast, though questionably named — last year at the Torino Olympics. The “blimp pops” scroll across the screen with a quick promotional announcement for a product, such as the TripleTred tire, often read by the game’s announcer.

By integrating the message into the broadcast, it’s not lost to channel surfers during commercial breaks or TiVo watchers who skip past the ads. Goodyear will receive more than 48 of the animated cut-ins through the tournament’s first two weekends.

Typically, Goodyear trades its unique camera shots to a network in exchange for the exposure. These deals often don’t involve cash.

Goodyear also has made significant ad buys with CBS, Viselli said, and will run its “Get There” series of commercials on the tournament broadcasts. These commercials feature blimp pilots (portrayed by actors) cruising the sky and espousing the benefits of Goodyear’s products.

“Get There” also will scroll across the blimps’ lighted message boards.

It’s the first ad campaign that has incorporated the blimp since the 1980s, said Viselli, who added that he hoped to keep the iconic airship integrated in the “Get There” plans for years to come.

Goodyear’s spending on the “Get There” campaign wasn’t available.

Despite its near-blanket coverage of the first four rounds, Goodyear’s blimps will not hover above Atlanta at the Final Four. Viselli said the “Get There” message works best with the journey to the Final Four.

“The first two weekends of the tournament work so well with the tone of ‘Get There,’” he said. “Every player is working to get there. It’s a great metaphor for our campaign.”

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