Taking car dealer competition to new heights

AdRants points to this story about the downing of a defenseless remote-control blimp advertising Cloninger Ford-Toyota - a North Carolina dealership. Problem was, the blimp was flying beside the Team Chevrolet dealer lot. Witnesses at a nearby car wash report seeing a black Chevy pickup with Team Chevrolet dealer tags pull up, a man get out, and fire a shotgun at the blimp.

What's the appeal of blimps? They deliver results. The Orlando Weekly ran through the work of the Lightship Group, a leader in the market for larger blimps, last month.

The Saturn blimp hung around in the skies over Orlando for several weeks this winter. "It definitely generates interest," says Sabrina Case, a spokeswoman for the Saturn of Orlando dealership.

Lightship, which is partly owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, counts MasterCard, Nescafe, Izod and others among its roster of clients.

For advertising and branding purposes, [company executive Mickey] Wittman says you can't beat a blimp in terms of getting the biggest bang for your buck. "They are basically moveable billboards that are loveable." ...

For instance, sales for Pepsi's new bottled water, Aquafina, increased 11 percent in cities where its Lightship appeared earlier this year. Whitman's Chocolates in Australia experienced a sales increase of 240 percent above expectations during and after their Lightship campaign, catapulting them to the No. 1 spot in the market.

They obviously get under the skin of your competitors as well.