Advertising Blimps Work


See this article about a UK business that is having great success with their advertising blimp.

Blimp pumps up Highland business

A HUGE helium-filled advertising blimp hovering 60 metres above a Highland Perthshire town is helping keep a 31-year-old children’s fun park afloat.

Although popular with local families and visitors, the Pitlochry Children’s Amusement Park, which operates from Easter to October, has felt the impact of the recession and persistently inclement summers.

Established three decades ago, family business Matchless Leisure Amusements had previously explored advertising options to divert more tourist traffic into its kids’ zone.

But James Matchett, co-director with his father Leslie, said he had discovered the best option to promote the park to passing tourists – roadside signage – was too expensive.

“Getting your business name on one of these brown tourism boards you see on the A9 costs between £6000 and £10,000,” he said.

So at a cost of about £2500, including helium, an air ship advertising balloon – or blimp – was a much more attractive option.

Advised by a Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) planning staffer that blimps did not require local authority consent and only a Civil Aviation Authority permit, Mr Matchett bought his inflatable.

He said the brightly coloured 20ft x 8ft balloon – the largest size of blimp permitted to fly in UK air space – launched last year and floated from 10.30am to 5pm or 6pm had made an impact on trade.

“We definitely think that it has – it can be seen right across Pitlochry and far down the A9, and it also has a curiosity factor,” he said.

“We’ve even had people coming along and saying, ‘wow, we’ve lived in Pitlochry for 30 years and didn’t know this place existed’.”

One day last year the blimp nearly sparked a scramble at RAF Leuchars when a senior officer from the base driving along the A9 spotted what he believed was a UFO hovering over the town.

“He called up the base and asked someone to find out what it was, but it was all sorted out before any planes took off,” said Mr Matchett.

Originally an amusement arcade in a shed with a few dodgem cars behind it, the Armoury Road fun park has since been revamped and now boasts attractions such as rides, a pirate ship, crazy golf, snack bar, remote-controlled model cars and boats.

Mr Matchett said despite no formal objections about his blimp he received a call from the same PKC planner last October who informed him he had made a mistake and the balloon did need planning consent.

“I think some sticky beak contacted the council and told them the exemption from planning laws only applied to 10 days out of a year,” he said.

However, he said the PKC planner had given him a verbal nod to fly the blimp while a planning application seeking a green light for five seasons was processed.

Meanwhile, fun park patronage continues to fluctuate.

“It’s really hard some days during the week but some days and on weekends we’re stowed out with families and kids,” he said.

“The business is really weather dependent and the wet summer is obviously not helping but we’ve got canopies and covers over seated areas. Hopefully next summer will be better.”

Call 1-800-791-1445 for more information on advertising blimps.