BWI plans national TV ad campaign 30-second spots aim to lure business people traveling to D.C.


September 05, 1997|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

A broader swath of America's viewing public is about to learn that BWI is just a spit away from Washington.

In its first national television ad campaign, Baltimore-Washington International Airport will begin a series of 30-second commercials this month on the Weather Channel, CNN and CNN Headline News.

"That's what business travelers like to watch whether at home or in their hotel rooms," said Jay Hierholzer, BWI's associate administrator for marketing and development. "We want fliers to know that BWI is more than just Baltimore. It's an easy way for travelers to get to Washington."

The three-month campaign -- which will cost the state-owned airport $425,000 -- follows a national ad campaign in USA Today last spring. It is targeted at inbound travelers who may not realize that BWI is just 29 miles from the D.C. business district, Hierholzer said.

One of the two commercials, created by the Baltimore advertising agency Eisner & Associates, features a disjointed conversation between office workers who brag about their best airport experiences. The one-upmanship reveals that BWI has the quickest gate-to-car-rental time at 10 minutes.

Ideally, Hierholzer said, the ad campaign will boost the number of passengers at BWI and prompt airlines there to expand their service to major business markets where planes increasingly are packed.

During the past couple of years, an extensive marketing campaign -- along with a proliferation of discount fares -- has made a strong impression on outbound Washington travelers. A recent airport parking lot survey showed that nearly 40 percent of BWI passengers now come from the Washington area.

"We're declaring victory in the local market," Hierholzer said. "We really feel [Washington area travelers] have gotten the message and responded to it."

But Hierholzer said the airport's latest research with travel agents, business travelers and frequent fliers in several other key markets shows that most didn't appreciate BWI's proximity to Washington. "A large percentage of travelers from other parts of the U.S. think the airport is 50, 75, even 100 miles from downtown D.C.," he said.

Getting passengers to the nation's capital won't be a problem, he said. Ground transportation to Washington has improved recently, with both Amtrak and MARC adding trains. In addition, Super Shuttle, the private, nationally franchised van service that has a contract with BWI, has increased the frequency of its 30-minute rides to Washington.

Pub Date: 9/05/97

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