After keeping it a company secret for three years, Appliances Online officially launched its Legend Blimp in Sydney yesterday, with Winning Group CEO John Winning shedding some light on just how a blimp came to be cruising over Sydney Harbour.
The idea came to Winning when a blimp appeared in the sky while watching an America’s Cup event in San Diego a few years ago. The eyes of thousands of spectators went from the sailing to the blimp above them and it occurred to Winning that marketing via blimp was the right fit for Appliances Online brand.
“I remember the day that I had to tell my dad, my uncle and the executive team that I had this idea of spending a considerable amount of money bringing a blimp to Australia and felt like a bit of an idiot at the time, but equally I really felt passionate about the project and thought it could really work and it would give us great exposure,” Winning said.
After the initial shock Winning said everyone quickly got on board. “When I told my dad and my uncle they probably shook their heads and thought ‘well what else would you have come up with? of course we are going to get a blimp and bring it to Australia.’
“[Their support] is really testament to the team that we’ve got. Hopefully they share my vision and don’t think I’m a complete lunatic, which is good.”
That “considerable amount of money” is also paying for blimp pilot Mark Finney and 13 members of the ground crew.
Since the blimp emerged a few weeks ago, including after hangared next door to The Good Guys Head office in Melbourne, it has been appearing frequently on social media.
— Steven Pam (@stevenpam) November 12, 2014
Appliances Online have also been posting photos taken from the blimp:
— Appliances Online (@appliancesAU) November 29, 2014
Appliances Online says it continues to experience strong double-digit growth despite an unprompted brand awareness of around 3 per cent. “We often joke that we’re the best online retailer you’ve never heard of. Word of mouth has been a huge driver for our success but we’re hoping the Legend Blimp will amplify this – it’s a great talking point,” said Winning.
The blimp is an attempt to raise awareness of the business for long term growth. According to Winning the blimp will be in the sky indefinitely, “hopefully we can be successful enough in business to keep it in the air and keep moving it around the country so every Australian at some point can see it.”
Winning is upbeat about the future of the industry and retail in general, saying that the consolidation of the industry has happened and “ the survivors of the industry are the strongest retailers that really do put the customer first and have a really unique offering that is different to the rest.”
For aviation enthusiasts here is a timelapse of the Legend Blimp being constructed: