HA-LO Expects to Fly High With Launch of FlyPaper

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HA-LO Industries, Niles, IL, is betting its newest product, FlyPaper, will be a hit with advertisers because of its ability to reach airline passengers while they're waiting for flights or afterward by filling the space on the back of boarding passes and travel itineraries.

To drum up support for FlyPaper, HA-LO launched a direct mail campaign last week targeting Fortune 500 companies across the country. The campaign, which will continue for the next two weeks, consists of 300 kits with sample airline tickets, a cover letter and a 24-page booklet describing the product. The company also used telemarketing to reach some companies. HA-LO, a brand marketing company, expects to be able to place advertisements on 15 million boarding passes, luggage tags, travel itineraries and ticket receipts each month.

"It will give advertisers a dynamic and exclusive medium to reach a specific demographic," said Peter Blythe, vice president of marketing at HA-LO.

Though no companies have officially signed on for the program, Blythe said initial response has been positive.

"We have set up meetings with a number of companies that are showing a lot of interest," he said. "Since the airline tickets are going to primarily provide national exposure, we feel that the larger national companies would be perfect for this."

As for the airlines it will be working with, HA-LO has an agreement with airline ticket printer DocuSystems, Morton Grove, IL, that represents "a number of major domestic and international airlines," such as Delta, TWA and Northwest Airlines. The program will initially be domestic.

Blythe said he expects advertisers will like the product because they can deliver a highly targeted ad to a specific audience in an uncluttered environment. "If the ad is on the back of that ticket and they can't get on the plane without it, then they will be forced to see it," he said.

Companies can either provide the artwork for their ads or can seek design assistance from HA-LO. The amount of space on the back of the documents will allow HA-LO to place ads from more than one advertiser. Blythe said advertisers can provide consumers with an array of response mechanisms, much like campaign pieces sent through the mail.

"They can put an immediate call-to-action on it, direct them to a Web site, mail it in, or ask them to hold on to it making it a redeemable certificate," he said.

In research it conducted before releasing FlyPaper, HA-LO found that 84 percent of the people who leave airports hang onto their tickets or boarding passes; 65 percent also have two or three other documents they keep that are related to the trip; and most people leaving the ticket counter look at their boarding information to check the gate number.

Blythe would not give numbers on how much it costs to participate in the program, but said it's based on a cost-per-thousand and cost-per-redemption model. The cost would be comparable "with similar vehicles that have nearly the same reach and exposure."

In the past year, HA-LO has reported lower-than-expected estimates, and its stock has dropped form $25 a share to less than $5. In its third-quarter results, released late last month, the company said it saw a decrease in sales of 2 percent, from $150 million to $147 million. It also saw a net loss from recurring operations of $2.6 million compared to a net income of $8.4 million in the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the company reported that its sales increased 12 percent to $464 million over $413 million last year.

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