Have you ever wondered about the history of airships and blimp technology? Or more importantly, how they became one of America’s most popular aerial advertising options?
There is evidence of hot air balloons being used as far back as ancient China. However, they were officially credited as being invented in the late 1700s by two French brothers. Later the same year, a physicist took the first manned balloon flight. While balloons could reach high elevations, they didn’t have the ability to propel themselves and were at the mercy of the wind.
Roughly 70 years after that, Henri Giffard built the first powered airship and in 1900, a German invented the first rigid airship, or Zeppelin, as they were sometimes known. Rigid airships were used for military and civilian purposes, including transatlantic travel. Chances are you’ve heard of the Hindenburg, a well-known Zeppelin that was destroyed by a fire in the late 1930s.
To fund his first airship, British aeronaut Stanley Spencer inked a sponsorship deal with formula manufacturer Mellin and Company. In return for Mellin funding the ship’s construction, Spencer agreed to take 25 flights with an advert for Mellin’s Food emblazoned across the side.
In 1902, Spencer took his creation on a dramatic flight over London, astounding spectators on the ground as he cut sharp turns and circles to demonstrate the ship’s maneuverability. He also tossed rubber balls from the aircraft to display what a militarized airship carrying bombs could achieve.
Taking notice of the increasing popularity of aerial advertising, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company began building blimps, which were used primarily for advertising and military surveillance and anti-submarine warfare throughout WWII. They are now used exclusively for advertising and TV coverage.
The Benefits of Airship Displays:
- They fly at a slow speed allowing time for potential customers to easily read your ad copy.
- Airships can stay over an event for longer periods than any other form of aerial advertising.
- The extended ad placement time leads to better ad recall and increased engagement.
- They do not have to refuel as often as airplanes towing banners or doing skytyping.