London Farm Ads Have 1 Minute to Grab Planeloads of Eyeballs

London’s Farmers Offer 60-Second Window
A 29,000 square-foot (2,700 square-meter) billboard publicizing Michael Jackson's posthumous record is seen in a field near Heathrow airport in London, U.K. A landowner can lease an acre of land around Heathrow to companies like Curb Media for as much as 7,500 pounds a month, Ganjou said. Photographer: Ian Leslie/High Level Photography via Bloomberg

Air passengers may see more than just empty fields next time they approach London’s Heathrow airport, according to Antony Ganjou, whose company is trying to rent the land to advertisers before the 2012 Olympics.

Curb Media Ltd., which Ganjou set up in 2008, has taken on about 150 acres (61 hectares) of land around Heathrow and seven other U.K. airports, he said in an interview last week. Ganjou, 30, plans to create giant displays on the sites that can be seen from an altitude of about 600 feet (183 meters).

“Between 10 seconds and about 60 seconds is when people are staring out of the window, both on landing and takeoff,” Ganjou said. “None of the adverts that we create are visible from the public highway; they can only be seen from the air.”

Curb Media charges companies about 50,000 pounds ($79,000) to place an ad on one of its sites for two to three months, he said. In December, Curb worked with Sony Music Entertainment to publicize Michael Jackson’s posthumous record using a 29,000 square-foot (2,700 square-meter) billboard near Heathrow. The ad for “Michael” was the largest of its kind in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

The media company is working with 18 landowners in the U.K., including Cecile Wiggins, who uses a plot close to Heathrow airport for farming. While agricultural land values in Britain climbed to a record in the first half, farmers are trying to make better use of sites that aren’t fit for raising livestock or growing crops.

Flight Path

“There’s more money in advertising than in agricultural land,” said Wiggins, who’s owned the site at Europe’s busiest airport for about 40 years. “The land is near the flight path coming into land at Heathrow’s Westside,” he said.

A landowner can lease an acre of land around Heathrow to companies like Curb Media for as much as 7,500 pounds a month, Ganjou said. They may get a share of the revenue generated from selling advertisements, he said.

The average value of English farmland fell 1 percent in third quarter from the previous three months and is likely to decline further this year amid the European sovereign debt crisis, real estate broker Knight Frank LLP said last month.

Aircraft are flying at an altitude of about 600 feet when they fly over the site that Curb Media’s aims to use, which is about 3.5 kilometers from the airport, Ganjou said. A plot of land that the company leases on the east side of Heathrow has limited use for its landowner because the British Aviation Authority has designated it a crash site.

Potential Clients

Curb Media is in talks with potential advertisers including airlines, Ganjou said. He declined to name any of the companies.

“Airlines are obvious clients who want to be involved in an installation like this,” Ganjou said.

A plane takes off or lands at Heathrow about once every minute, according to the airport’s website. The 44 domestic sponsors of next year’s Summer Games, which start July 27, include British Airways Plc, Adidas AG and BP Plc.

Curb Media’s airport-related business, called High Profile, will probably generate revenue of about 500,000 pounds in the first year, Ganjou said. The company as a whole has targeted sales of about 780,000 pounds for this year and expects that to double in 2012.

The London-based startup also has access to land at Gatwick, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, according to its website.

“There can be a lucrative income from a plot of land that was essentially doing nothing for the landlord,” he said.

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