MARKETERS FLYING TO BRIT AIR TEST

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British Airways is about to select 10 to 20 marketers that will spend up to $300,000 each to advertise on a test of an in-flight interactive entertainment system.

Among those said to be interested in participating are American Express Co., Sony Corp. and ITT Sheraton Corp.

Each company will have category exclusivity except cars and hotels, where demand is highest, said Mark Rowse, media development director at Spafax, a London-based in-flight advertising and interactive TV specialist working with British Air.

Other categories include financial and business services, travel, telecommunications, clothes, fragrances and alcohol.

"Advertisers can have an integrated package with print advertising in the in-flight magazine and TV advertising, [both of which could] signpost the fact that there's an interactive game available," Mr. Rowse said.

In the trial, scheduled to start late this year, every seatback will have a TV screen offering a range of interactive and conventional programming, plus a telephone. Options will include electronic games and shopping, interactive live news and pay movies.

British Air anticipates most services will be free but will test various prices for movies and games.

If the trial, designed to reach about 30,000 people, is successful, British Air will roll the system out to 80 aircraft at a total cost of $120 million.

Mr. Rowse said he expects marketers to pay between $50,000 and $300,000 each, depending on the software application they create for the test. The price, he said, is reasonable considering the number of passengers the test will reach.

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