Whatever Happened To Skywriting?

April 18, 2014 in Daily Bulletin

Remember skywriting? When planes would trace out smoke-messages in the sky? Why did we stop doing that? Adrienne LaFrance took a look:

  • Skywriting used to be incredibly popular. In 1940 Pepsi wrote over 2,000 messages in the sky.
  • It was so popular that critics called it “celestial vandalism” and worried that high-rise residents would have to keep their windows closed to avoid the smoke flooding their apartments.
  • Engineers were working on a way to develop glow in the dark letters, and cloud slicing technology that would let skywriters work in bad weather.
  • But the dream of giant sky billboards with images of merchandise came to an end with the advent of television.
  • Television took the world by storm and advertizers realized that they could use that platform to reach customers – rather than hoping that the weather would be clear on the day and time they want to sell.
  • In 1961 a skywriter had to go up, fly a line of smoke through the error-ridden sky message, and write a new corrected one next to it. Executives realized that they wouldn’t have to contend with such issues in TV ads.
  • Today the service is seeing a resurgence. People immediately Facebook and Instagram the messages quickly amplifying the audience of the message.
  • Skywriters are pricey though. Depending on the message you could be paying as much as $15,000.

The full article is a good read and has many more details. Read about the plans for “extraordinary palettes of colored smoke”, some notable ads from days gone by, and what current skywriters think over here.

Source: The Atlantic