AirTran tries to make money like an internet company

If they can’t make money taking passengers from one place to another, maybe airlines can harness the power of eyeballs … you know, the way the web does. If you get enough people passing by a particular spot — physical or virtual — it’s possible to toss up a few ads and make some money. This is what AirTran has in mind. The airline is putting ads on the bottoms of seat-back tray tables. So, for takeoff and landing, at least, when this device is in its upright and locked position, passengers will be treated to prolonged exposure to the desires of advertisers.

AirTran plans to execute this across 138 planes within the next few weeks — it’s easy to pull the trigger when you stand to make some money by doing very little. The first ad partner, Mother Nature Network, is offering fliers the opportunity to win a cruise on Royal Caribbean. Future advertisers are expected to be travel-related, as well. The ads will be 2 ½ inches by 9 inches and will be easy to swap out, thanks to the plastic in which they will be encased. As planes are brought in for overnight service, they’ll be set up for the ads.

There is precedent for this move. For several years, US Airways has put ads on tray tops, but the rollout has been limited to only a few planes. Likewise, the cash from in-flight advertising isn’t all that high. US Airways pulls in $10 million a year from this, but it includes napkins, cups and some of the products carried onboard, not just the ads. Outside the United States, this practice is pretty common. Several airlines run ads to bring in a little extra money. Of course, Ryanair is among them, throwing ads on its overhead bins, tray tables and the outsides of the planes.

Will onboard advertising save the airline industry? It’s doubtful. The five largest airlines in the United States lost an aggregate $3.2 billion through the first nine months of 2009. They’ve tried combating this with extra fees and extremely aggressive cost-cutting, but nothing has really been successful. After all, a company just can’t cut its way to growth. The new advertising revenue could help, and it’s a revenue stream that will persist (and possibly grow) after the recession has receded.

Tourism Australia comes under fire from random retired American soldier

Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.

So, the organization modeled a photo on the U.S. Marines (hey, Sydney Morning Herald, marines and soldiers aren’t the same thing) raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. You know the original picture. Everyone remembers it. Because everyone is familiar with this iconic photo, it’s easy for one to relate to it. That’s what makes Tourism Australia‘s picture of a family “raising” an umbrella particularly brilliant.

Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.

U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”

Before we take Tourism Australia to task for its advertising decisions, let’s not forget that the Marines have had a few problems as well … occasionally seeming culturally tone-deaf.

Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?

For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.

The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.

I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.