Stamford residents Tony Linder and Gerry Shaw have devised a new way to market to the ultra-rich, but only time will tell if it flies.
The pair has established the Aileron Group, a boutique Stamford marketing firm with its eye on placing advertisements on the wingtips of private chartered jets targeting high net-worth individuals.
"Companies have asked me how to advertise on private aircraft," said Linder, director of business development at JetSmart, which operates executive jets at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford. "Advertising inside a plane is obtrusive. I think it´s acceptable to put a logo on the wingtip. It´s a subtle way of advertising."
That remains to be seen: Marketing to the upper end of American society requires a discreet approach, said Kevin McEvoy, professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut at Stamford.
"They have specific personality characteristics," he said. "They want to be catered to and believe they should be catered to. Advertising on wingtips may be considered a little pushy. They want a soft sell."
But Linder said he believes the strategy has merit.
"I know how to reach (private jet) owners. The owners of aircraft are looking for additional sources of revenue," said Linder, estimating that a placement on an airplane would cost $ 80,000 to $ 100,000 per year.
Discretion will be essential in the treatment of the advertising, said Charles Alcock, international editor of Business Jet Traveler. But he said private jet owners who lease their aircraft may be interested.
"This is one way of making their operations more affordable as fuel prices are going up," Alcock said. "I question whether passengers will consider it palatable."
Linder and Shaw, the fledgling firm´s business development director, are not stopping at aircraft. They also are focusing on the racing yacht community with the goal of placing advertising on hulls and sales.
Linder, who is part of a crew on the racing yacht Falcon, estimated that the fee for a yacht placement would be $ 50,000 to $ 250,000 per year.
"It´s like a billboard on the water," said Linder, noting that JetSmart is sponsoring Falcon.
McEvoy was more optimistic about Aileron´s prospects with the racing yacht community than with its private jet aircraft strategy.
"Racing yachts are a different category," he said. "That´s more like the NASCAR model, but instead of advertising SAT you´ll see Bentley."
Aileron is negotiating with several companies that cater to high-end clientele, including Breitling Watches and YachtPath Marine Group.
Aileron, located in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, is well-situated for growth, Linder said. But he and his partner have bigger aspirations.
"We have full intentions to take this global," he said.