Blimps: The New Billboards

Nine year old company Appliances Online used to rely on word of mouth to showcase its services. That is until CEO and founder John Winning came up with a slightly crazy idea.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

At a sailing competition a few years ago in San Diego Winning saw a blimp that caught the crowd’s attention. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a good idea’. It’s so much different to a billboard you might drive past on the Anzac Bridge,” Winning told the group of suppliers and media partners at the launch of the Legendary Blimp in Sydney that forms part of the brand’s first major marketing push, its ‘Legendary Service’ positioning.

“I remember the day I had to tell my dad, my uncle and the executive team that I had this idea about spending a considerable amount of money bringing this blimp to Australia and I felt like a bit of an idiot at the time, but equally felt passionate about the project and thought it could really work and would give great exposure,” he said.

“There was probably a gasp of air at the executive meeting when I did it and everyone was in a bit of silence. Then they looked at each other and thought ‘nah, that’ll work. We could do that’, which is really testament to the team that we’ve got.”

Winning says the blimp really suits the brand and company. “It’s something different. It’s innovative. It brings back memories for those who are lucky enough to have seen a blimp in the ’80s or ’90s and hopefully they’re all good memories. And for the younger generation they may never have seen a blimp and I guess then it would be pretty much a UFO to those people.”

Three years in the making, the blimp has finally become a reality for Winning.

“It was pretty tough to keep the secret to ourselves for so long and certainly the secret got out when we were in Melbourne, trying to hide a blimp in the fields about a hundred metres away from The Good Guys head office.”

While suggesting journalists tend to not give Aussie retail the benefit of the doubt and think they’re doing it tough, Winning says now was the perfect time for the to launch the Legend campaign.

“We’re doing it tough because we’ve really struggled to innovate with the rest of the world. We’re well positioned and I think the industry and the survivors of the industry are the strongest retailers and the ones that really put the customer first and have a really unique offering.

“Times are starting to look up. And there couldn’t be a better time for us to launch our Legend campaign and also the blimp.”

The campaign was created by creative agency VCCP in partnership with ZenithOptimedia.