Originally created 10/06/04

Residents speak out in airport's new ads



The struggle that James "Cotton" Flynn faces in the auto industry is precisely the one Augusta Regional Airport faces in the aviation world.

Augustans often shop for lower prices in Atlanta or Columbia when Mr. Flynn says they should take their business to the hometown airport or - in his case - car dealership.

This belief is what motivated him to become involved in the airport's newest advertising campaign, which features actual area residents talking about why they use Augusta Regional.

"I'm always for supporting your hometown," said Mr. Flynn, the general manager of Acura of Augusta, Kia of Augusta and the Stokes Hodges Auto Mall. "I'm usually flying from the West coast, and I don't want to drive 2 hours after I land."

In all, eight testimonial commercials are now on the air, each produced by Augusta-based Hall Advertising.

In Mr. Flynn's 30-second spot he talks about what a nightmare driving from Atlanta to Augusta is, calling it "probably the most boring drive in the world."

It's a statement he said he came up with off the cuff. What's unique about the testimonial strategy is there were no scripts, so the dialogue is genuine responses to prompts.

"They weren't asked to say anything they weren't comfortable with," said John Hall, the president of Hall Marketing. "Some people even came to us and volunteered to do it ... The first thing we asked was whether they use our airport."

Peggy Seigler, the director of sales for the Augusta Metro Convention Visitors Bureau, also is featured in the commercials.

She said she always has supported Augusta Regional - whether by contributing to the Continental Challenge or using it for leisure travel - so being involved made sense.

As a saleswoman, Ms. Seigler said she thinks the approach of using real people, rather than actors, might strike a chord.

"Seeing my peers on there is a little bit of peer pressure, and it might hit home more than what I call image spots," she said.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.