in-flight newstainment is paid-for advertising

I fly too much. Far too much. When I’m bored out of my mind, I can’t help but get distracted by the TV that they show – CBS Eye on America, a sitcom or two, and some various newstainment (or late-night TV reruns). I also read the magazine. I figured that, like other magazines and TV drivel, what was being run was reporting. It may not be the best reporting, but I figured that when they featured someone, it was because that person was in theory of interest to people.

This morning, I was notified that American Airlines was doing a series on “America’s Innovators and Entrepreneurs” and that I could pay $3995 (off from the normal $6995) to be included as an innovator. Ewwww. This reminds me of when in high school, I could pay to be in the “Who’s Who of America’s Students.” I realize that the blurring of news and entertainment is pervasive and I guess I should suspect that a lot of news is paid-for advertising, but knowing for certain that I’m being locked into a vessel of misery with pervasive advertising is depressing. Le sigh.

(I’ve included the full email in the Extended Entry if you’re curious to learn more.)

Time Sensitive Material
Sent: 7/26/2007 12:49:59 PM

My name is Greg Coley and I am a independent producer for the special in-flight radio program “America’s Innovators and Entrepreneurs,” which will air worldwide on American Airlines’ “FORTUNE In-Flight Radio” Channel during the entire month of December 2007.

This special on-going radio series spotlights compelling profiles of innovators and entrepreneurs — from small businesses to large enterprises — the people and companies that make up the backbone of business in America and are rarely heard from. This show will feature stories of hope, ideas and success stories in ways you’ve never heard before.

I would like to personally invite a senior spokesperson from your organization to participate on this special program, that is broadcast for an entire month reaching 4.2 million business and leisure travelers, and speak about how your initiatives in strategies, services and overall business model has been instrumental in making your company a true success.

Our guests to date include:

Anthony Ambrose, General Manager, Intel
Craig Ellins, CEO, DigitalFX
Tom Cates, President, Brookeside
Stephan Brant, Managing VP, Hitachi Consulting
Debbie Grodon, President & CEO, Snappy Auctions
Al Knapp, President & CEO, Ethanex Energy
Joy Flora, President, Merry Maids

To view some of our current interviews, click on FORTUNE Inflight Radio Channel – July 2007

Our production team will produce a dynamic one-on-one interview. Our writers will script everything in advance with your final editorial control. Your interview will air in a continuous loop on 29,000 audio-equipped American Airlines flights during the full month of December 2007.

Since we’re on deadline, we’re offering our last few spots on our December 2007 edition for only $3,995 (normally $6,995). Please note we are recording interviews no later than August 17th and due to our tight deadline, we need a commitment to secure your spot no later than Friday, July 27th.

Your participation includes:

1. Production and placement of a 3-minute interview/profile to air worldwide on “America’s Innovators and Entrepreneurs” on 29,000 American flights reaching 4.2 million in December 2007.
**American Airlines is the world’s largest airline and flies to more destinations than any other airline.
2.”America’s Innovators and Entrepreneurs” program listing in American Attractions (350,000 monthly copies).
** American Attractions has the greatest number of readers and largest circulation of any in-flight publication.
3. Rebroadcast of interview on our website with link to your site for 1 year.
4. Digital audio file of interview for promotional and marketing purposes.
5. “As heard on American Airlines” logo for airing of interview on your website.
6. All turnkey production including scripting, recording, editing, mastering and delivery.

Please contact me as soon as possible to reserve your spot, as space is very limited.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.


Greg Coley
12155 Riverside Drive
Valley Village, CA 91607
818.754.6682 Office
661-316-9734 Mobile
818.301.2099 Fax

Producer of the #1 Talk Show in the Sky and on the Web

If you’d like to call for a reference, please contact the Executive Producer, Elizabeth Montgomery at 818-762-6800 ext. 11. If you want to be taken off my invitation list, please reply to this email stating your intent.

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11 thoughts on “in-flight newstainment is paid-for advertising

  1. Seth Schoen

    I recently got an extremely similar solicitation to appear in a “talk radio” “advertorial” “to air worldwide on Northwest Airlines during December 2007”. (Notice that it’s a different month and different airline.) The solicitation I received has the same mailing address but a different producer name and phone number. Instead of reaching 4.2 million people on 29,000 American flights, I’m told I can reach 700,000 on 2,800 Northwest flights. (Looks like more people watch advertorials per flight on Northwest than on American?)

    My solicitation offers the same sorts of services “for only $2,995 (normally $5,500)”. Sounds like you’re being offered a better deal per prospective viewer — I’d have to pay 0.43 cents per viewer, while you’d have to pay only 0.10 cents apiece! Instead of being produced by, it’s produced by (but at the same mailing address).

  2. Laura Moncur

    You can turn those TVs off. The flight attendant showed me how when she saw me try to take the magazine and hang it in front of the TV.

    Video iPod is a lifesaver on long flights.

  3. Jake Lockley

    You just described every technology and entertainment conference/expo I have ever heard of or attended except they charge attendees and exhibitors for the privilege of being part of the event.

    Tim O’Reilly is notorious for creating them. And let’s not forget about pop-culture conferences like Comic-Con. The reality is none of them are worth it as any useful information is distilled into the media as the conference happens or in the weeks that follow by attendees or their creators so they can be seen as someone who knows something you don’t know. In the end, we are all tools for marketing in the information age. You of all people should know that. Most of it targets the youth culture who has yet to wise up and realize they are being exploited.

    I may be biased as I work in entertainment and technology and we tend to get exposed to more of this than most.

  4. Jay Livingston

    Look again in the seat compartment. Skymall is where it’s at. Someone, some bored traveler whose name and place of publication I have unfortunately forgotten, did an analysis of Skymall for what it tells us about the worlds of air travelers. Not you and me of course, but all those other frequent flyers.

  5. Will Warner

    Gross indeed. And an imperative reason to bring your own entertainment, paper or digital, serious or light.

    I think the analysis someone meant is Slate Magazine’s “Where the Wings Have No Shame,” . I remember reading it and thinking that there is a grain of an insight there, buried in the thick, heavy padding that suggests the author was trapped on a plane with absolutely nothing around worth reading or writing about and a deadline looming in the very near future.

  6. leahpeah

    i noticed this advertising on planes for the first time this past weekend. i was on 5 planes in 3 days and 4 of them had commercials for pepsi etc. not just before the movie but also on the drop-down tray table top. i get SO tired of being accosted with ads. i was appalled to see them on TVs at the checkout at the grocery stores and now mad that they seem to be invading every spare corner of free space. i’d like to be able to read my book in peace on the plane and not have to consciously refrain from letting my eye get pulled from the page to the ad. grrr. (missed you this year at blogher. xo)

  7. Greg Scott

    I just finished reading all of your writings. You have quite a body of work. I was very impressed with your insights in group dynamics, clusters, communities, etc. Your life style priorities and values groupings was particularly well articulated.
    I have been working for some time researching and developing a Dodgeball type proximity social network project and your perspective has been very helpful.

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