AOL to Push Boeing 7E7

AOL Time Warner and Boeing announced on Monday an online and offline marketing deal to publicize Boeing’s proposed new plane.

The campaign for the Boeing 7E7, a mid-sized plane boasting fuel efficiency, will include a number of online exclusives for AOL, such as a 360-degree animated tour of the plane for a month before it is released to the public. AOL members can also vote for the 7E7’s new name and register to win prizes. Non-AOL members in the U.S., China, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom can also vote at the 7E7 Web site. Voters are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win a trip to Seattle to fly a Boeing 737-700 flight simulator and tour Boeing’s manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash. The contest ends on June 3.

“You can expect to see a whole new approach to how we tell the world about the airplane and encourage participation and feedback in the work we are doing,” said Rob Pollack, Boeing’s vice president of branding.

The “Name Your Plane” campaign will allow participants to choose from four potential monikers: Dreamliner, eLiner, Global Cruiser and Stratoclimber. At noon on Monday, over 1,000 votes had been tallied, with Global Cruiser in the lead.

The preview of the plane, which is expected to go into service in 2008, will run as part of AOL’s celebration of the last century of aviation. In addition, AOL Time Warner’s publishing unit will look to interest children in the plane through a special issue of Time for Kids magazine, which reaches 2 million students in grades four through six. The issue, “A New Dream Takes Wing,” is slated to arrive in classrooms beginning today.

Boeing hopes the 7E7 will speed the recovery of the teetering aviation industry, which has been in a tailspin since Sept. 11 and worsened with the Iraq war and SARS crisis in Asia. The external crises, along with internal problems like high fixed costs, have left a number of major carriers in or near bankruptcy. The new plane is designed to use as much as 20 percent less fuel, which Boeing claims would allow airlines to move to a more viable business model.

Along the way, Boeing plans to engage the public to build excitement for the plane. The company plans to begin a virtual community on its 7E7 Web site for previews of the planes evolving interior and exterior designs, as well as the chance to participate in surveys about its design.

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