Turbulent times for advertising – barf bags now feature ads

According to a recent USA Today article, US Airways plans to open up advertising opportunities on its air-sickness bags.

I realize airlines are trying to squeeze every penny they can in this new age of thinner margins and increasing competition. But you either have to be really, really bored and out of reading material to want to pick up the barf bag to read an ad, or you have to be really sick, at which point you probably won’t want to read. And even if, while gagging and heaving, you decide to skim over the content of the ad (isn’t reading one of the things that enhances motion sickness?), does that really create a positive association for the advertiser?

Here is an image of one ad on an air-sickness bag. Would you really take this and then turn in your barf bag when you go to get your photos processed? You’d have to qualify that “I didn’t use this.”

I’ve only seen (seen, heard, smelled) one instance of sickness on an airplane. It involved a mother AND her two children and it was not pretty. Interestingly enough, they never even got to the bags – so had there been an advertising message on the bag, it would have missed completely.

On the other hand, maybe it opens up a creative advertising opportunity for darbyDarnit. Here’s what my ad would read:

“We know how you feel. Maybe you should switch PR firms.”

The airlines ought to look at successful advertising models, like Google’s. Google delivers targeted, relevant and unobtrusive ads based on the searches of site visitors.

As someone who works in the PR/marketing/advertising arena, I for one will be checking barf bags on every flight just to see who is advertising and whether there are strategic fits. But the real question is, will you?

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