Marketing Aviation to the Public: Change the Game or Risk Extinction3:30 PM
That would be "Phil" Knight, a native of Oregon and the co-founder and chairman of Nike, Inc. In 2014, Forbes named Knight the 43rd richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$18.7 billion. A native Oregonian, he ran track under coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon (UO), who co-founded Nike with Knight. Here in my hometown, it is hard to ignore the massive financial impact Knight and his money has had on UO, mostly in athletics but also in numerous other areas as well.
• In 2000, Knight was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for his Special Contribution to Sports in Oregon. At the time of his induction, he had contributed approximately $230 million to UO, the majority of which was for athletics.
• In August 2007, Knight announced that he and his wife would be donating $100 million to found the UO Athletics Legacy Fund to help support all athletic programs at the university.
• Knight was responsible for financing the UO's $68 million 145,000 square-foot gridiron football facility that was officially opened in late July 2013.
• The 2010 construction of the UO basketball team's facility, Matthew Knight Arena, was the result of a partnership between Knight and former Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny. Named after Knight's deceased son, the venue cost over $200 million and was achieved with the direct financial support of both Knight and Kilkenny.• Along with mega-donations to UO athletics, Knight has also given large financial support to OHSU's Knight Cancer Institute and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Out there somewhere is one very, very rich person who has the same sort of passion for aviation that Knight has for UO athletics. This is the kind of person who can write a check for $100 million and it won't dent their bank account. Knight does this all the time for UO, and I can assure you he still has sufficient bank left to make it through life. Once this person steps forward with that bankroll, we - the aviation industry - need to start thinking bigger...MUCH bigger. Because of you want to sell flying to the public, you need to do it like Nike sells shoes. You need to launch and maintain a massive advertising campaign. And before you think that I have sort of agenda here because I am in the advertising profession, trust me when I tell you that anything I do here is not, repeat not, an obvious ploy to generate a job. Sure, if someday this idea I am describing comes together and the ensuing RFP hit my desk, I would be honored to submit my best shot at getting the gig. But that remote possibility is not what drives me in my quest to get the industry's attention about a growth problem I believe grows more serious by the day.
You ask anyone at the mall how much it costs to earn a pilot's license and they will tell you "$10,000 to $15,000" if they even know at all. I have done this, and the vast majority of the public has zero clue that you can get into flying for much less, earning a Sport Pilot ticket for $5,000 or less. To an adventure sports enthusiast or serious bicyclist, that's about the same as their last kayak or bike. Many people spend five grand on a ski or golf vacation, and a decent bass boat costs far more that that.