Catch Their Eye from the Sky: The Art of Aerial Advertising with Van Wagner

March 27, 2024

Catch Their Eye from the Sky: The Art of Aerial Advertising with Van Wagner featured image

In the cutthroat expanse of marketing, terrestrial campaigns jostle for a fleeting glance while digital advertisements contend with a sea of content and a fleet of adblockers. Many businesses find themselves desperate for advertising space as costs rise due to overwhelming demand. And yet among all the clutter, one realm remains wide open for advertisement — and people like seeing these ads. We’re talking about aerial advertising. After all, it’s practically habit to look up when we hear aircraft above, and crowds still get excited to see a plane pulling a banner or expertly maneuvering in the air to spell out letters and phrases.

Aerial advertising is a spectacle that captures the eyes and embeds messages in the hearts of audiences — it stands as a testament to creativity that transcends traditional boundaries. Amidst this elevated marketing strategy, we here at Van Wagner emerge as a pioneering force, elevating brands with unparalleled visibility that stretches across the skies.


Van Wagner: Pioneers of the Sky

We’re Van Wagner, a global sports advertising and entertainment agency that develops, connects, and sells for top leagues, colleges, teams, brands, and properties. Our teams work with a number of the industry’s biggest names and Fortune 500 companies to deliver tailored marketing and sales, event production, content creation, activation, and more. We’re the top aerial media company in the US, providing high-impact aerial billboards and innovative skytyping solutions to brands, agencies, and advertisers.

With decades of experience, we deliver aerial messages at huge sporting events worldwide and big corporate events. We also partner with universities and colleges in the US as a prominent multimedia rights holder, campus marketing partner, and strategic adviser.

We’ve been referred to by big leagues, sports events, venues, teams, corporations, and brands. We provide customized solutions and tactics to match individual client requirements and objectives. And now, we want to help you — whether you have a personal message to proclaim, an event to advertise, or want to expand your reach. Here’s how we help you expand into infinity and beyond:


Aerial Billboards

Aerial billboards, at times called sky banners or airplane banners, are advertisements that utilize airplanes to tow huge banners or signs in the sky. These banners are generally tough materials like vinyl or canvas and are hung out of the rear of an aircraft with a towline.

The banner will be flown over specific places or beaches, sporting events, festivals, and various other places where the crowds are large, giving more people the opportunity to see your message. The banners might have messages, slogans, logos, or graphics meant to attract attention to a product, event, service, or brand.



Compared with conventional skywriting where a single message is spelled out in the air, skytyping utilizes a series of synchronized airplanes to produce several aerial messages in rapid succession.

Here’s how skytyping typically works:

  1. Formation Flying: Skytyping requires a team of airplanes flying in precise formation. Each aircraft is equipped with a computer-controlled smoke system that emits puffs of smoke at specific intervals.
  2. Message Creation: The aircraft coordinate their movements to create individual letters in the sky by emitting smoke in a series of dots. These dots form letters, numbers, or simple shapes that compose the desired message.
  3. Rapid Succession: Unlike skywriting, which produces one continuous line of text, skytyping creates each letter separately but in rapid succession. This allows for the creation of multiple messages or longer messages than traditional skywriting in a shorter amount of time.
  4. Precision: Skytyping requires a high level of precision from the pilots and coordination between aircraft to ensure that the letters are formed accurately and in the correct sequence.
  5. Visibility: The smoke produced by the aircraft is typically white, making it visible against the sky. Depending on atmospheric conditions, the messages can be seen from several miles away.



Skywriting is a kind of aerial advertisement in which an aircraft emits smoke to produce a visual message or pattern over the sky. It’s a fun way to get info out to a big audience, typically useful for advertising, announcements, or special occasions. Here’s how skywriting typically works:

  1. Aircraft: A specialized aircraft equipped with a smoke system is used for skywriting. These aircraft are often small, single-engine planes capable of precise maneuvers.
  2. Smoke Emission: The aircraft emits smoke in a controlled manner through a smoke system installed on board. The smoke is typically generated by injecting paraffin oil into the exhaust, creating a white, visible trail in the sky.
  3. Message Formation: The pilot controls the aircraft to form letters, numbers, or simple shapes in the sky by flying specific patterns while emitting smoke. Each letter is created individually, with the pilot maneuvering the aircraft to draw the desired characters.
  4. Persistence: The smoke trails remain in the air for some time so the message may be noticed by ground observers.
  5. Visibility: Skywriting messages can be seen over long distances, depending on weather conditions and the size of the letters. The messages are often most visible against a clear, blue sky.


An overhead view of a bustling sports stadium and lively tailgate crowd, with a vibrant green aerial billboard featuring the Hornitos Tequila brand logo and a prominent image of a tequila bottle, adding excitement and energy to the atmosphere.

Helicopter Banners

Helicopter banners, also known as helicopter banner towing or helicopter aerial advertising, involve attaching banners to helicopters and flying them over targeted areas to display advertisements or messages.


Maximizing Brand Visibility with Van Wagner

By employing strategies such as aerial billboards and skytyping, brands can reach vast audiences on a national, regional, or local scale. This form of advertising ensures that your message is delivered in a unique and hard-to-ignore manner, capturing the attention of people whether they’re on the beach, at a festival, or simply going about their day-to-day activities.

One of the primary ways our aerial advertising maximizes brand visibility is through its ability to grab attention. When people hear or see something unusual, such as an airplane pulling a banner or skytyping above, their instinct is to look up. This natural curiosity ensures that a wide audience sees your advertisement. Furthermore, aerial banners are large and visible from great distances, offering unparalleled visibility compared to many ground-level advertising methods.

Another advantage is the targeting capability of aerial advertising. Brands can choose specific events, locales, and times that best match their target demographic. Whether it’s a crowded beach during the summer or a major sporting event, aerial advertising allows for strategic placement of your brand’s message in front of a receptive audience. This ensures that the ad not only gains maximum visibility but also reaches the audience most likely to be interested in the product or service.

Moreover, the novelty factor of aerial advertising often means that it is more memorable to the audience. The uniqueness of seeing a message written in the sky or a banner flying above creates a lasting impression, making it more likely that people will remember the brand and talk about it with others, amplifying its reach through word-of-mouth.


Celebrate Personal Milestones with Van Wagner

Aerial advertising with us offers a uniquely spectacular way to celebrate life’s most cherished moments. It opens up a sky-high canvas for personal expressions that turn milestones into unforgettable memories. Whether it’s a marriage proposal, a significant birthday, an anniversary, or applauding academic achievements, the sky literally becomes the limit for your celebrations.

Marriage Proposals

Imagine the moment your partner looks up to see “Will You Marry Me?” in the sky, inscribed across the blue expanse. This grand gesture is not only heart-stopping but crafts a story you both will share for a lifetime. Our experts assist in making sure this pivotal question is asked in a grand style, ensuring it’s not just seen but felt. You can choose a ‘will you marry me’ plane banner or literally write your love in the skies with ‘will you marry me’ skywriting.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

Broadcast your wishes for a friend’s special day or honor decades of love between your parents with aerial messages. A birthday wish or anniversary congratulations, written amidst the clouds or trailed behind a plane on a Van Wagner banner, adds a layer of awe to the celebration, making the honoree feel truly special. These moments can transform an ordinary day into an extraordinary milestone.

Academic Achievements

The pride of academic accomplishments, especially a graduation, is a momentous occasion. Celebrating a 2024 graduate with their name soaring across the sky not only highlights their hard work and dedication but does so in an exhilarating and public manner. It’s a declaration of pride that is seen not just by them but by peers, family, and the community, amplifying the joy and recognition of their achievement.

Custom Messages for Every Occasion

The beauty of aerial messages lies in their versatility. Beyond these examples, the sky is your canvas for any message you wish to convey. From congratulating a friend on retirement to announcing the arrival of a new family member, each message is tailored to encapsulate the emotion and significance of the moment.

Our team’s expertise ensures that your personal milestones are celebrated not just in style, but with the magnitude they deserve. These messages are not just seen; they’re experienced. They punctuate the sky, drawing eyes upward, forging a moment that blends the personal with the sublime, ensuring that your celebration remains etched in memories forever.

Choosing aerial advertising for personal milestones adds a layer of surprise and spectacle, elevating your message into a shared experience. It’s about creating joy, sparking wonder, and capturing hearts—a service we are proud to offer, making your special moments soar.


An image of a large aerial billboard soaring against a vibrant blue sky, prominently displaying the iconic BET MGM lion logo, symbolizing the brand's presence and allure in the entertainment and gaming industry.

How to Design Impactful Aerial Ads

Whether it’s for aerial banners or skytyping, designing ads for aerial media demands a unique approach that ensures they not only attract attention but also effectively communicate your message. Here are some key aspects to consider while creating impactful aerial ads:

1. Simplicity is Key

Aerial banners or skytyping messages need to be read and understood quickly. Viewers may only have a few seconds to take in the ad as it moves across their field of vision. As such, your message should be simple, clear, and concise. Avoid complex graphics or long texts that may confuse or distract the viewer. Use short slogans or call-to-actions that are easy to read and understand.

2. High Contrast

Color plays a crucial role in visibility. Use colors that contrast highly with the sky backdrop to make sure your ad stands out. Typically, black and red text against a white background creates a high-contrast image that can be read easily from a distance.

3. Font Matters

The font used for your ad should be simple and legible. Stick to bold fonts with no serifs. This makes the text easy to read from a distance and doesn’t require the viewer to spend too much time deciphering the words.

4. Iconic Images and Logos

If you want to include a logo or an image, make sure it’s simple and familiar. Simple iconic imagery or universally recognized logos can quickly convey who the ad is about, without taking up valuable space needed for text.

5. Keep it Brand Consistent

Aerial advertising, while unique, should still align with your overall brand strategy. The colors, fonts, and style should be consistent with your other marketing materials. This builds brand recognition and ensures that viewers can easily connect the ad to your business.

6. Repeat Exposure

Consistent and repeated exposure to your aerial ad can significantly boost its effectiveness. Plan multiple flights over the same area, like crowded beaches or sports events to ensure the audience retains your message.

7. Effective Timing and Location

Choosing the right time and place for a flight can make all the difference in the effectiveness of the ad. Identify where and when your target audience will be most receptive to your ad and plan your flights accordingly.

Remember, the first rule of aerial advertising design is visibility. Everything from your choice of colors to your font and image selection should aim to make your ad as easy to see and read as possible. With careful planning and thoughtful design, you can maximize your ad’s aerial impact and make a lasting impression on a wide audience. Through our expertise and experience, Van Wagner has developed a deep understanding of creating aerial ads that truly capture attention and inspire action.


Fly High with Van Wagner

At Van Wagner, we’re continually pushing the envelope in advertising and entertainment. Our solid portfolio and collection of services reflect our drive for innovation and excellence. By operating at the intersection of sports, entertainment, media, and marketing, we’re innovators in producing unforgettable moments for companies and their audiences.

From the sky to the sidelines, from electronic screens to stadiums, our work mirrors our belief in providing not only visibility but significant engagement. We collaborate with top sports entities and brands to provide memorable, motivating, and entertaining experiences.


If you’re interested in expanding into aerial advertisement or have a special message to proclaim, contact our team today by calling 800-395-7647. We’ll work with you to plan the perfect airplane billboard campaign and provide a free quote.