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Flexjet Turns to Boone/Oakley

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Flexjet's selection last week of Boone/Oakley Advertising is based on a 10-year relationship one of its executives has had with the agency's principals.

Jeff Cox, vice president of sales and marketing for the Dallas-based aviation company, said he wanted to avoid the cost of an agency review, emphasizing that the Charlotte, N.C., shop "could do exactly what I need done."

"They are a young and growing agency known for their creativity," said Cox. "We have the strategy, we need a creative arm to extend that."

Cox, John Boone and David Oakley worked together at Price/Mc-Nabb in Charlotte in the early 1990s. Cox said he also followed Boone's career at Team One in El Segundo, Calif., when the art director worked on that agency's launch of Lexus.

Flexjet, a unit of Montreal-based Bombardier, sells "fractional ownerships" in its fleet of Learjets and other corporate aircraft. The firm split with incumbent Tracy-Locke Partnership in Dallas late last year.

The $23 million budget marks a dramatic increase from 2001's$5 million spend on newspaper and magazine advertising.

The new media plan calls for heavier buys and larger ads in Forbes, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal.

About half the budget will be dedicated to print, outdoor, direct mail, collateral and some broadcast advertising. The remainder will go to event marketing and displays at airports in 10-12 key "wealth" markets including Atlanta, New York and Dallas.

"Their whole thing is to hunt where the buffalo are," said Oakley.

The air service is not for everyone. A one-sixteenth stake in a Learjet 31A, for example, starts at $7,000 a month.

Flexjet and its category competitors—NetJets, Travel Air and Flight Options—are intent on shifting their marketing focus from ads explaining the concept of fractional ownership to branding that connects on an emotional level, according to Boone.

"There's a lot of text about the convenience and safety of the service," Boone said, "But it's also really cool."

To tout Flexjet's "cool," the agency is likely to focus on the star appeal of current "owners" like professional golfer David Duval, center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds and National Football League veteran Fran Tarkington.