-- Stadiums do it. Bridges do it. Even a small airport in Southern Oregon wants to do it.
The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport in Medford, Ore., is talking to an unnamed corporate sponsor about branding the control tower, whose main competitor for tallest building in the region is a silo at a railroad yard.
Airport director Bern Case said Wednesday they hope to make a 10-year-deal deal to bring about $300,000 a year to the airport from a corporation that would put its logo on all four sides of the 100-foot control tower, visible to passengers taking off and landing, as well as people driving by.
"It's not really advertising," he said. "It's more showing a corporate presence for somebody who would like to be involved with the community."
Though the money is small compared to the airport's $8 million budget, the tower sign would be the biggest source of advertising revenue. And with no tax support, every little bit helps to lower the landing fees charged airlines, increasing the chances of attracting new carriers, Case said.
Allen Adamson, managing director of the branding firm Landor Associates, said he had not heard of any other airport trying to sell space on its control tower, but he was not surprised.
"Every inch of public space is fair game to either sell or get your corporate message out," said Adamson. "There is huge pressure to find new ways to communicate, from the men's rooms to the bridges to the tunnels. The control tower is just next in line and it's a great one, because it is visible from a distance and above the fray. And it's the right audience. Airports are where the business people are, and where the people with money to travel go. From the airport point of view it is smart because it brings in revenue at a time when everybody is scraping."
Case said unlike many control towers, Medford's airport owns theirs, and not the Federal Aviation Administration
FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said safety is their main concern, but the agency would have no comment until it has seen a specific proposal.
A sign that big needs approval from the Medford Planning Commission, which is holding a hearing next week.
"Airport terminals are named after people, presidents or whatever," said Case. "But not the tower. We may be the first. If it works out well, I don't think we will be the last."