It's faster, slimmer, longer, bigger, more maneuverable and seats 12. And it wears Goodyear tires. A new car? No, it's a blimp. And if you're really lucky and good at naming blimps, you will get it all to yourself. For a day, at least. The iconic airship has gotten its first major redesign in a long time. The blimp, which was revealed at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield, Ohio, will start test flights later this month, and begin service this summer. To tout it, the company is running a name-it promotion.
Emily Cropper, Goodyear marketing manager, tells Marketing Daily that the new blimp -- at 256 feet -- is 50 feet longer, and goes almost 25 miles per hour faster than the current lineup. "We have had blimps for almost 90 years and by showing the new blimp and design, it shows that, just like our business, we are always moving forward." She says that in addition to the de rigueur flyovers of major sports and entertainment events including overseas events like the London Olympics, the company does a lot of community engagement with the airship. "Last year, we were at about 200 events."
One of the big visual changes is signage: the current fleet scrolls messages using LED lights. The new one uses two HD full-color day-and-night video screens. "It's like watching a really large HD TV screen," says Cropper, adding that new ships will roll out over the next four years, and that the company will tout them at point of purchase and other brand touchpoints. "It will be a big part of our marketing."
The naming promotion is open to anyone in the U.S.; Cropper says the company will narrow the entries down to 10 finalists and consumer voting will determine the top name. The company last did a naming campaign in 2006 that led to "Spirit of Innovation" joining "Spirit of Goodyear," and "Sprit of America" but the current promotion does not have thematic parameters.