What's great about the internet is that it gets rid of so many middlemen. Everyone has a shot at being funny, becoming a filmmaker, selling you almost anything. Most of these endeavors fail, but a lot succeed—maybe not on a mass scale, but enough to make it worthwhile.
Here's one example—a fake airline promoting a band which—thanks to timing!—has a Charlie Sheen tie-in.
The "airline" landed on my radar after I got a weird email promotion from FedEx this week. "Now you can ship dangerous goods faster with FedEx First Overnight and FedEx International First," the email declared.
Al Qaeda will be pleased.
The headline was so off-putting that I tweeted it.
Suddenly I got a response from @BlueStarAir: "Great. There goes our biggest revenue source. Transporting radioactive medical waste."
BlueStar Airlines was made famous in the movie, "Wall Street". Charlie Sheen's character, Bud Fox, traded on inside information he got from his dad, and everything went south from there. Gordon Gekko planned to gut the airline, Bud conspired to save it, and they all ended up going to jail.
But faster than you can say "Winning!" BlueStar is on the rise again. It never was a real airline, and it still isn't. But it has its own website, with the slogan, "The first choice in travel...when you're not going anywhere."
BlueStar touts its "100 percent On-Time Departures and Arrivals", "No Lost Luggage" and "No Children Under 18 on Every Flight". Its fictitious nature is promoted as an asset. "Because we don't actually exist, we have been able to avoid the high fuel costs real airlines incur."
There's even a BlueStar commercial.
Who's behind all this? The band VAST out of Austin, which has pioneered the concept of selling music directly to fans over the internet from its own site. www.realvast.com
"It started a few years ago trying to get music on those dumb airline channels. It was impossible!" says band manager Steve Berman. "So the natural solution was to start an airline. As fans of the movie 'Wall Street', BlueStar was the natural choice."
Berman says the airline is a "backdoor" promotion for VAST. Click on the "In Flight Entertainment" section of the website to link to their music.
The fake airline website is actually a couple years old, but Berman just recently brought it to Twitter, and now there's the Sheen tie-in. "As for Charlie Sheen’s current situation, more power to him," says Berman, likening VAST's direct sales approach to Sheen's tiff with CBS. "This is as much about him and this particular situation as it is about a reshuffling of power within entertainment. The studio vs. talent vs. private funding and independent outlets. See the movie 'The Player'."
The airline's impact on music sales has been small, but the website is generating interest. And it's not like the venture cost much. The "commercial" is really one for Lynx Deodorant with a BlueStar logo slapped on the end.
VAST is also involved in charity work, and its music can be heardon a variety of TV programs like "CSI" and "Smallville", but few things have been as fun as running a fake airline.
"It's always been about doing things differently," Berman says. Plus, this is easy. "It’s not like we are flying planes."
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