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.
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.
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:
Lincoln Financial: $649,605; April 14 through July 6; 14 Dioramas, 2 Spectaculars, 8 Mini Specs, 1 Escalator Specs;
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:
Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., doing business as Clear Channel Airports;
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.