The annual Rose Bowl parade has been a tradition in my house since I was 10 years old, and one I’ve passed on to my own kids. But this year, keep your eyes on the sky! Why? Thanks for playing.
Ten thousand feet above the action of the parade, a series of five enormous sky “billboards” will unfold with messages in support of the ongoing Writers Guild (WGA) strike. The sky writing banners, created by a series of precision aircraft, are miles long with letters as tall as the Empire State Building. The planes emit biodegradable vapor “puffs” that type out messages that resemble dot matrix print. The message will be visible for miles around.
Sponsored by fans4writers, the advertising campaign is being funded through a silent auction, selling, among other things, rare original Battlestar Galactica scripts, signed (of course) by the authors. Although the content of the five “sky-typed” banners is being kept secret, the big question is whether the networks, all of which carry the New Year’s morning tradition live, will show the banners on camera. It will certainly be difficult to ignore them, especially if the thousands of spectators on the ground are watching the sky as the banners unfold high above the parade.
This is a huge undertaking for the group of fans organized in support of the writers guild. Fans4Writers have done everything from delivering pizza to the picket lines to organizing the "Pencils2Media Moguls" campaign, which encourages fans to send pencils (the symbol of writers everywhere) to members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), with whom the WGA is trying to negotiate a contract.
The new campaign has the ability to really catch the eye of the public in support of the writers in a way other efforts have not. It is a brilliant move, especially as television tries to return from its holiday hiatus. Many scripted shows that premiered in the fall are about to run out of original episodes, and late night hosts are returning to the airwaves, all (with the notable exceptions of David Letterman and Craig Ferguson, who have negotiated a separate deal with the WGA) without their writers. The Golden Globes telecast is at risk, and with Oscars not far behind, that broadcast, too, is now in doubt.
Whether the networks choose to air the banners or not, the presence of the sky-typed messages will certainly generate buzz, news reports, and boost awareness of the WGA’s message in a potentially big way. The fan organization is supplementing its showy sky show by distributing leaflets on the ground.