Bob Hope Airport ad plan gets poor review

Bob Hope Airport commissioners this week waved off a planned print and online ad campaign while keying in on the message they most want to get across: Whatever your L.A. destination, fly Burbank.

Members of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday were skeptical of the concept because of what commissioners feel is a lack of emphasis on the convenience of Burbank’s airport.

A combination of newspaper advertisement and online ads were scheduled to start in early May and end in July, said Steven Forsythe, chief executive of FFE Group Communication Partners, the firm consulting on the campaign.

The ads — considered a work in progress — feature prominent Southern California attractions or shopping districts and encouraged travelers to “fly Burbank” because it is “easy, close and convenient.”

But that encouragement was at the bottom of the ads, which for most commissioners at Monday’s meeting missed the mark.

“I’m not sure if that’s the direction we want to go,” said Commissioner Steve Madison, who represents Pasadena.

An ad campaign should highlight the inconvenience of other airports and that people might miss out on important events, like their daughter’s soccer game, when they don’t choose to fly in and out of Burbank, he said.

“We’re either going to play this game or we’re not,” Madison said, adding that it was also about time and convenience.

Commissioner Frank Quintero of Glendale said he had something similar in mind.

“The question is, ‘Why come to Burbank?’” Quintero said. “There’s less traffic, [there’s] easy access and it’s a central location. I think that’s the idea.”

Forsythe said the ads are intended to target people who are searching for flights to various destinations.

“They’re not in the mind set of how do we get in and out quick enough,” Forsythe said, adding that for those people, it was about the attraction and business travel first, and then letting them know Burbank is the way to get there.

But Madison disagreed.

“Time is the most precious commodity, especially for the people that have the resources to do the type of things we’re talking about here,” he said.

The traveler needs to be able to connect a reason to come to the Burbank airport, Madison added.

Commissioner Susan Georgino, who represents Burbank, said she wasn’t certain there was enough time to “imprint” in the traveler that when they come to Southern California, they should choose to fly to or from Burbank. She added that ads touting location might be able to imprint quicker.

The majority the funding for the $445,200-campaign — $290,500 — will be directed to online media on travel sites, including Travelocity and Orbitz.

Funding for the ad campaign comes from the airport authority’s reserves and is not budgeted, said Dan Feger, the airport’s executive director.

Feger also said the message of the ads should be clear.

“We hear you,” Feger said. “Initially the intent was to capture summer travelers … I suggest we not start this campaign until you’re comfortable that we’re sending out the right message.

“I don’t want to waste money. This is not the time to waste money. We’re doing everything we can to live within our means because our passenger traffic is down — by the same token, we should do everything we can to stimulate our numbers,” Feger said.

Airport officials are scheduled to discuss the campaign again on May 7.

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