The Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association's "airport support" cable television commercials on The Weather Channel over the Christmas and New Year's holidays reached a record number of people, thanks in part to unusually harsh winter weather.
More than 18 million people saw at least one of the 30-second commercials promoting the value of community airports over 13 days from Friday, December 22, through Wednesday, January 3. In addition, there were more than 5,000 "click through" visits to the AOPA Web site featuring Quicktime versions of the commercials.
"AOPA's timing for purchase of these 160-plus commercials wasn't an accident," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "With the congestion at major airports and airline passenger disgruntlement, the reminder of the value of local airports couldn't be more appropriate."
AOPA chose The Weather Channel for the unprecedented advertising blitz because millions of Americans are off work and at home during the year-end holidays, or are traveling during the period and mindful of transportation issues and the weather. The fast-paced commercials were adapted from the popular AOPA video Local Airports: Access to America, used nationwide by AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers to build public appreciation for local airports.
AOPA also posted information about the value of local airports on its Web site, including facts about general aviation, the full AOPA Guide to Obtaining Community Support for Your Local Airport, the AOPA 2000 Aviation Fact Card, and information about the AOPA Airport Support Network. The AOPA Web address of www.aopa.org was included at the end of each commercial, encouraging viewers to pursue the additional information.
AOPA had first sponsored "airport support" cable television commercials on The Weather Channel during the 1998 holiday season, when a reported 13.5 million households saw the message. This year's commercials enjoyed more viewers due to the severe holiday weather that disrupted travel schedules and kept viewers glued to The Weather Channel.
As in the 1998 effort, each commercial ended with the tag line, "America's pilots care about local community airports. You should, too!"
E-mail from AOPA members during the campaign reflected widespread support for the advertising blitz, including such comments as "It was good to see my dues in action...keep up the good work!" and "The (AOPA) ads (are)...dignified and effective. I like it!" and "I am pleased that some of my AOPA dollars are being spent on such a good effort."
Purchase of the advertising blitz was made possible by strong member support of AOPA Certified Services programs that generate royalties to fund special efforts for the defense of general aviation. Other such efforts include AOPA Project Pilot, the AOPA Airport Support Network, and AOPA support for the industry-wide Be A Pilot effort that is helping rebuild the pilot population.
AOPA ended 2000 with more than 365,000 members, some 56 percent of the nation's pilots. AOPA members own three quarters of the U.S. general aviation fleet.