Atlanta’s airport to get ads pasted on windows, hung from roof, and more

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s airport could soon have advertising pasted on windows, hung from rooftop banners, and streamed across a screen above the central atrium.

One of the approved bidders for the advertising contract at Atlanta's airport has installed a digital sign beside the Downtown Connector, near the state Capitol. Credit: Donita Pendered

One of the approved bidders for the advertising contract at Atlanta’s airport has installed a digital sign beside the Downtown Connector, near the state Capitol. Credit: Donita Pendered

The airport intends to open these areas, and more, as part of its upcoming contract with a company to sell and manage commercial advertising. The airport’s ad business now grosses more than $10 million a year, city records show.

It’s all part of the airport’s effort to reach its No. 1 goal with the new ad contract: “To increase Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s advertising revenue.” The airport could use the money, according to the city budget.

The airport’s operating revenues are expected to drop nearly 2 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, which started July 1, compared to the previous fiscal year, according to the current city budget.

Revenues are projected to decline by $8.4 million, from $497.7 million to $489.3 million, for a negative variance of 1.71 percent, according to the city’s budget.

Advertising revenues could help bolster revenues on its non-aeronautical portion of the budget, where earnings from concessions are projected to increase this year.

The airport expects to make $100.3 million from all of its concessions – food, beverage, etc. – in FY15. This projection is up by 6.3 percent from the previous year, according to the budget. The airport intends to keep 65 percent of gross profits from ad sales, according to its bid document.

The city released its invitation to bid on the commercial adverting contract on Aug. 29. City officials are slated to open the bids Oct. 15 for the deal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Display ads will be sold in the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal. Credit: Donita Pendered

Display ads will be sold in the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal. Credit: Donita Pendered

The plans would allow advertisers to:

  • Wrap the base of luggage carousels in advertising; they could add 55-inch TV monitors to the top of the carousels, beneath the existing monitors that provide information about the status of luggage arrivals;
  • Paste wall clings on the doorway windows of automated people movers, and interior windows of the airport terminal;
  • Hang banners on the exterior walls of the airport terminal;
  • Stream messages on a digital banner in the atrium, along the base of the second floor.

Revenues involved in the indoor advertising contract are as eye-popping as some of the visual displays contemplated in the city’s request for bids.

The current program includes contracts with 84 companies. Together, the companies will pay about $10 million this year to display ads in the world’s busiest passenger airport.

Here are some of the companies that advertise at the airport, the platform they purchase and price they pay:

  • Advertising in the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal will be expanded under a proposal to increase ad revenues at Atlanta's airport. Credit: Donita Pendered

    Advertising in the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal will be expanded under a proposal to increase ad revenues at Atlanta’s airport. Credit: Donita Pendered

    Lincoln Financial: $649,605; April 14 through July 6; 14 Dioramas, 2 Spectaculars, 8 Mini Specs, 1 Escalator Specs;

  • MD Anderson: $2,500; March 24 through April 20; 1 diorama;
  • Microsoft: $118,000; March 3 through March 30; 9 Mini Specs, 2 Escalator Wraps;
  • Microsoft: $118,000; April 28 through May 25; 9 Mini Specs, 2 Escalator Wraps.
  • Siemens: $3559,996; Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 29; 1 Super Escalator Spec.

Incidentally, the definitions of the platforms includes:

  • Diorama – “Spectacular picture, partly translucent, for exhibition inside a building, made more realistic by various illuminating devices.”
  • Spectacular – “an impressive, large-scale display of a picture that is rear- illuminated at times and attractively framed.”
  • Window clings – “Direct application, giant displays that take full advantage of unused window space in areas of heavy passenger flow.”

Four bidders that prequalified are the only ones that will be allow to submit bids. They are:

  • Passengers could read display advertising as they await their luggage, under a proposed advertising contract at Atlanta's airport. Credit: City of Atlanta

    Passengers could read display advertising as they await their luggage, under a proposed advertising contract at Atlanta’s airport. Credit: City of Atlanta

    Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., doing business as Clear Channel Airports;

  • JCDecaux Airport, Inc.
  • Titan Outdoor, LLC.
  • U.S. Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Corey Airport Services.

Atlanta businessman Billy Corey won a $17.5 million verdict in a 2011 federal trial over the 2002 contract, which the city awarded to Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. and Barbara Fouch – the godmother to a child of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson. An appellate court vacated the award – but after Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced in April 2011 his decision to pay Corey Airport Services, Inc. $3.9 million to end the city’s portion of the litigation. Reed said of his decision to pay Corey: “This battle, which is more than 10 years in its origin, has gone on long enough.”

The city’s co-defendants, Clear Channel and Fouch, appealed the jury verdict, issued in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, and prevailed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The court’s ruling, June 24, 2012, rejected Corey’s claim that he lost the bid because he was a city hall “outsider,” whereas the winning team was a city hall “insider:”

  • “Corey attempts to identify groups based on affiliation or connection to the city, the supposed discriminator: ‘insiders’ and outsiders.’ This vague category is inadequate because these idea-based characteristics do not allow us to separate readily people and entities into discrete groupings – a necessary part of identifying the group that suffered the allege discrimination. The proposed categories are too loose, too shifting to be useful to courts.”

When Reed announced his decision to pay, Atlanta was deliberating a set of airport concessions contracts worth more than $3 billion over 10 years. The concept of running a clean deal was deemed critical to the success of a program Reed described as the largest airport concessions contract in the history of North America.

Moving ads could be displayed above the atrium of Atlanta's airport under a proposed advertising contract. Credit: City of Atlanta

Moving ads could be displayed above the atrium of Atlanta’s airport under a proposed advertising contract. Credit: City of Atlanta

Every time a traveler checks the clock in the atrium of Atlanta's airport terminal, an advertiser could transmit a message. Credit: City of Atlanta

Every time a traveler checks the clock in the atrium of Atlanta’s airport terminal, an advertiser could transmit a message. Credit: City of Atlanta

Display advertising could be sold on the exterior of the terminal of Atlanta's airport, under the city's request for bids for an advertising vendor. Credit: City of Atlanta

Display advertising could be sold on the exterior of the terminal of Atlanta’s airport, under the city’s request for bids for an advertising vendor. Credit: City of Atlanta

Large display advertising could festoon windows inside the terminal and on automated people movers, under a proposed advertising contract for Atlanta's airport. Credit: City of Atlanta

Large display advertising could festoon windows inside the terminal and on automated people movers, under a proposed advertising contract for Atlanta’s airport. Credit: City of Atlanta

Advertisers could reach passengers as they use the airport's automated people mover system. Credit: City of Atlanta

Advertisers could reach passengers as they use the airport’s automated people mover system. Credit: City of Atlanta

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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