The Skies will be Pink over South Carolina this weekend!
May 25, 2011: At least for Marsha Treacy who is the only female hot air balloon pilot participating in Freedom Weekend Aloft along with 59 other pilots from around the country this weekend.
Marsha earned her pilot license in 1983 and is one of a handful of women that fly corporate sponsored balloons for a living. She first participated in Freedom Weekend Aloft in 1985 flying the Oldsmobile Hot Air Balloon and has attended the event for years rating it one of the country’s best hot air balloon festivals.
Over the years Marsha has flown balloons in 26 of the 50 states, including Hawaii and participated in numerous hot air balloon festivals across the country. In 1996 she performed a trans-Canada tour flying the Bugle Boy special shaped balloon, has flown in Mexico as well as many European countries. In 1993 and 1995 Marsha, as pilot of the Cadillac hot air balloon, was a guest of the Forbes family at their annual balloon festival held at Chateau de Balleroy, Normandy, France. Her company managed programs for General Motor Corporation from 1985-1998.
Recent corporate balloon programs for Marsha and her husband Randy include working for the NFL flying two balloons at Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix, AZ, and again at Super Bowl XLV in North Texas. Another recent project for Warner Home Video included a 12- city tour with the 70th Anniversary Wizard of OZ Hot Air Balloon, and for the past four years they flew a hot air balloon for the Carolinas Ford Dealers.
Balloon Festival Lets Sponsors Rise Above the Clutter, Quick Chek Extends for 19th Year
For the 19th consecutive year, Quick Chek stores is returning as title sponsor of the annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.
The company utilizes its partnership to introduce new products and showcase its award-winning customer service to upwards of 150,000 to 175,000 people in a single weekend. Having a 65-foot-tall hot air balloon in the shape of a giant barn promoting their “farm fresh” products helps, too.
“The Festival is our number one branding event, it generates millions of media impressions throughout our market and serves as our top team-building event with more than 500 team members and their families pitching in,” said Quick Chek CEO Dean Durling. “We dazzle our guests with three days of fun and excitement.”
Quick Chek’s involvement with the Festival is the third-longest running non-sports title sponsorship of a major event in the United States. According to IEG, the world’s leading authority on sponsorships, only the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (83 years) and the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco (21 years) are longer. (www.sponsorship.com)
In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust Their Friends Less -
Edelman 2010 Trust Barometer (reprinted from AdAge.com)
Edelman Study Shows That Only 25% of People Find Peers Credible, Flying in Face of Social-Media Wisdom
Before you move some of your surviving budget into a spiffy new social-media campaign and give up control of your brand to "the conversation," consider that you might be replacing your old-fashioned, excruciatingly commercial marketing with newfangled irrelevant nonsense.
At least that's what I get from the Edelman 2010 Trust Barometer, which found that only 25% of people it polled see friends and peers as credible sources of consumer and business information (that's a decline of nearly 50% since 2008). Folks also think less of their peers as credible spokespeople. Should these findings cause worry for the almost four out of five companies planning to take TV ad money and put it into social?
I hate to go all Wilford Brimley on it, but hell, yes.
I know all too many CMOs who find criticizing the social-media lobby something like debating the dialectic with avowed Marxists -- you're never right when the very premise of your existence is wrong, and it gets old being told that what your visceral concerns are a result of your failure to perceive class struggle or to tweet enough. Nobody with responsibility for a bottom line has ever felt comfortable with social media as a replacement for traditional advertising. Arguing that consumers "buy more" if you "sell less" just smacks of another five-year economic plan for the glorious motherland. Notwithstanding the allure of cost savings and glib convenience that consumers will sell things to themselves, there's not much goodwill built up for the stuff inside most corporate-marketing departments.
It's altogether possible that people didn't initially rush to social media because they found their peers so compellingly helpful, but rather that they ran away from commercial speech because advertising had proven to be so irritatingly useless. Conversational media could never be anything more than secondary, anecdotal research on products and services, along with partially reliable color commentary, but that's an accomplishment when compared to the predictably inane or dishonest content we usually put into ads. Want proof? Contrast a random chat-room conversation about a product with the last assortment of Super Bowl spots.
Maybe consumers found the anonymous crowd simply less bad than branded communications? This is my theory, anyway, and not a conclusion of the Edelman study, although when the research also says that "traditional authorities and experts" have regained consumer trust, it suggests to me a broader, perhaps maturational trend is under way.
Even the best game of telephone requires that somebody start it off by saying something, and it's up to CMOs to make sure that brands do so by contributing content that is credible, authentic and useful (and not just some emotional or associated brand attribute). We can still be wildly creative, but the crowd can't invent truth ... it is only a litmus test and connector. And the ultimate truth of brands is that we promote them so people will buy them -- not just think fondly -- so maybe the purpose of commercial speech needs to get back to giving them reasons to do so?
If we renewed our commitment to selling based on credibility, authenticity and utility, maybe people would trust what we tell them, respect our corporate reputations, and give us their purchasing loyalty. Maybe if we stopped thinking we can give up responsibility for why they should buy, and start acting like David Ogilvy and sell to them once again, they'd find comfort relying on our communications as well as the subsequent iterations through the social echo chamber. This might unleash the ultimate promise of social and empower people to know, discuss and change the way businesses function, not just blather on about marketing blather.
Without it, I suspect that trust in the recommendations of the anonymous crowd will continue to decline, because its conclusions will be no less clueless than those of the individual consumers who contribute to it. It's no accomplishment to detach conversation from the reasons why brands would spend money to talk to people, and more conversation about less content will never qualify as believable or trustworthy. I think the Edelman research reveals that consumers are figuring this out.
It really doesn't matter how successful we are at getting people to click, forward or otherwise waste their time with even the most brilliant social-media campaign or tactic. Engaging with branding is no substitute for engagement with brands.
By Michael Bush
Published: February 08, 2010
NEW YORK (AdAge.com)
Experiential marketing is all about connecting customers with brands - and doing so in a non-traditional and memorable way.
Customer-experience marketing or experiential marketing aims to personalize the branding experience to each individual consumer. It goes beyond the common confines of features-and-benefits marketing tactics and appeals to all people - whether they would personally benefit from a given product or not. It is proven that many people are very resistant to traditional advertising techniques - and they go to great lengths to avoid them.
The idea is to help clients, regardless of industry, sidestep competition and do something completely original that creates its own demand.
Robert G. Valle Jr. at the George P. Johnson office in Torrance, CA looks at challenges down the road in 2009.
“We are definitely seeing the same signs that are giving brand marketers pause and recognize that budgets have to stay in line with organizational priorities affected by the current economic climate.
Fortunately, while live experiences are an important part of the marketing mix in good times, they become absolutely essential when times get tough. No other medium is as cost-effective or as successful at cutting through the clutter and moving customers to a purchase behavior — and repeat purchase behavior — like experience marketing.
I'd also say that in order to retain customers, expand existing business and attract new customers; brands will be making a shift from event management to strategic event marketing. In a nutshell, creativity and innovation — ideas — are as or more important than production and delivery.
We're talking about using events to promote creative ideas that drive integrated marketing campaigns. In this model, live experiences become “idea platforms” that move brands to a life-cycle model, where you're tracking customer touch points across the event portfolio and driving them to a specific purchase or loyalty behavior.
As people continue to be resistant to traditional advertising approaches, messages not only have to strike the emotional centers of potential consumers - they have to do so within a few seconds at most. People’s lives are flooded with electronic media and technology, and face-to-face communication is becoming surprisingly rare. Today, nothing beats a live experience for making a lasting brand impression. Non-traditional marketing events produce better ROI than your other efforts."
Build Authentic Relationships
Attention-grabbing, awe-inspiring non-traditional marketing grabs the minds of your targeted audience.
Nothing shouts image like a hot air balloon. An ad in the sky is always a surprise. If it is in the shape of a giant floating brand name product, it is the ultimate surprise. No billboard or TV commercial can get half the attention. The impression it makes for will last forever in the minds of your audience.
No other form of advertising can compete with the burst of color or the shear size of a corporate hot air balloon against a perfect blue sky or appeal to the senses and create a long-lasting emotional connection. In advertising, image and relationship is everything!
Positive brand experiences fuel loyalty and irreplaceable peer-to-peer recommendations.
Experienced event and non-traditional marketing is a powerful tool that drives consumer acquisition and retention.
From mass media to targeted marketing campaigns, a corporate hot air balloon is one of the most effective promotional tools any organization can use in enhancing its overall image.