Wheels Up flying high thanks to American Pharoah

Engagement and traffic are both up for the air charter company Wheels Up, thanks mainly to its sponsorship of American Pharoah and its brand ambassador, Serena Williams.

Twitter's engagement was up 835 percent compared with that of the previous week with 698 retweets over the weekend, and the company has ranked No. 1 on Instagram in the private aviation space category.

On Tuesday, Kenny Dichter, the CEO and co-founder of Wheels Up, said that the American Pharoah deal was sealed within six hours on Thursday. He received a call from the agency responsible for Triple Crown marketing at 6 in the morning, and by noon the legal paperwork and deals were completed.

"When the risk/reward is right, you push the purple chips up," said Dichter in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Wheels Up's name was printed on jockey Victor Espinoza's pants legs. "The leg is in my view the most powerful piece of inventory on the horse," said Dichter. "And by the way, we had both legs just in case the cameras did a reverse deal and the lower back."

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Wheels Up is a new airline travel company co-founded by Bill Allard who stands in front of a new Beechcraft 350i King Air turbojet plane with only 30 hours on it.
John Tlumacki | The Boston Globe | Getty Images
Wheels Up is a new airline travel company co-founded by Bill Allard who stands in front of a new Beechcraft 350i King Air turbojet plane with only 30 hours on it.

The victory of Williams, who despite having the flu won the French Open over the weekend, also contributed to the company's visibility while involving more women in the private aviation business.

Dichter said the private jet business has been a man's business, but Serena and sportscaster Erin Andrews were two faces changing the game.

"It's all about partnerships," said Dichter about Williams.

Dichter said there is a dislocation between what people are paying and what Wheels Up will get in return. He had first told CNBC that he was expecting $20 million of value.

"I think there's a dislocation when we talked about this yesterday—what people are paying for A-plus content and what you get in return," Dichter said. "It's really a buyer's market right now."

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In addition to increased visibility, Wheels Up is also creating job opportunities in places such as Wichita, Kansas.

"I would say we are affecting hundreds and thousands of jobs," said Dichter.

"You have the 11,000 people who work and then you have components. You have 100 different companies that make components."

—CNBC's Melody Hahm contributed to this report.