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It all started a few years at our last agency when my mentor and boss at the time had seen a hot air balloon “night glow” in Palm Springs. We pitched our client the idea of a custom hot air balloon for the Cosmic Crisp® brand, and our adventure began. We had no idea what a brand ambassador it would become.

Special Shape

Once the project got the green light, we went to work collaborating with the balloon designers on what they call a Special Shape. If you’re going to create a hot air balloon—why not make it unique, right? It took weeks to get the shape, color and lenticels to dial in what we considered to be a recognizable Cosmic Crisp® apple. Several more weeks went by to produce, test and get FAA approval for the balloon to take flight.

Crew and Culture

We quickly learned that hot air balloonists are a whole inner club. Our pilot, Steve Wilkinson happens to be an award winning balloon racing pilot. Many of the festivals are by invitation only, therefore your pilot and crew are also critical to the overall impact of having a hot air balloon.

Each balloon festival is a little bit different but they typically have a sunrise take off and a night glow. Both of these activities are breathtaking, exhilarating and really get the attention of both attendees and media. Another aspect of balloon festival culture are lapel pins which are traded among pilots and sponsors, and trading cards which are handed out to kids. The cards are often signed by the pilots.

Fun Facts about the Balloon



Height: 85 ft (Over 8 Stories!)


Volume: 90,000 Cosmic Crisp® Apples


Weight: 440 lbs with 14 km of Thread & 1,300 yd of Fabric


232 Hand-Created Starry Lenticels


An Effective Brand Ambassador

Not only has the Cosmic Crisp® hot air balloon been a fun and safe way to showcase the brand during the pandemic — we’ve found that having a Special Shape balloon is like having our own celebrity. It goes on tour in its own special branded van, gets invited to festivals, it’s covered by the media, and it demands attention wherever it shows up.

Our pilot and crew are well versed about the apple and can talk about it’s history, attributes and brand positioning. This recent article is a great proof point of local media coverage that supports our overall brand awareness efforts. It’s also created retail opportunities which is always our ultimate goal of any Cosmic Crisp® marketing campaign.

Check out the hot air balloon at a recent festival in this new video.

Looking for a unique marketing idea that takes your brand to new heights? Let’s talk.

Lisa Minardi

Author Lisa Minardi

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