Airport powerhouses make connection

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Less than eight months ago, the president of leading airport advertising company Transportation Media Inc. thought little-known Carrosell's idea to advertise on baggage carousels was a great concept that didn't work.

Now the two are partnering.

"They have some real advertising experts working for them, and I think it's going to be an entirely different project now," said Jim Riley, president of TMI, a subsidiary of Eller Media Co., which is owned by $2.7 billion Clear Channel Communications. Under the new arrangement, TMI will sell the baggage carousel space for Carrosell.

"Maybe initially [Mr. Riley] didn't think it was as good as it should be, but now he thinks it's perfect, because he's out there selling it," said Robert Schmidt, president-CEO of Carrosell, which manufactures, constructs and installs the ad medium in airports. "They definitely convinced me that they have not only a product that works, but [it's] a better product" now, Mr. Riley said. "Now we have something to sell."

Carrosell has exclusive contracts in Dallas/Fort Worth, Honolulu and the three New York-area airports. Its opportunity for expansion is boosted by TMI's arsenal of 12 major airports in the U.S. and Canada including the No. 1 and No. 2 airports in the world, Atlanta Hartsfield International and Chicago O'Hare International, respectively, each serving more than 78 million passengers a year.


TMI's network serves 390 million travelers a year. Because it includes four major transfer hubs, more than 80% of all business travelers -- with average incomes of $87,000, according to market researcher Perspectives Resources -- pass through. Turner Broadcasting System's CNN Airport Network has targeted the coveted audience since 1992.

Airport advertising "is the best for the [marketer] who wants to find upper-skewed citizens," Mr. Riley said. "Here we capture them; we know they have to fly."

Carrosell installed its first carousel ad in January 1999 and has a client roster including Absolut, Banana Republic, Kenneth Cole, Oldsmobile and Verizon.

"You've got the undivided attention of the consumer," said a spokes-person for Kenneth Cole, which is running its first carousel ad in Honolulu, LaGuardia and JFK. "It's a good consumer."

The average passenger sees a revolving ad, which costs about $40,000 for a full-carousel ad, about eight times at baggage claim. More marketers are sure to sign on, Mr. Riley said, since many TMI wall wraps, posters and banners are sold out, leaving a waiting list of clients.

"I've been in airport advertising for 25 years," Mr. Riley said. "There's been a lot of things that have come and gone, but this one is going to stay. They've made an attractive venue a reality."

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