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POSTED: Monday, November 17, 2008

NATION

Planes will be full for Thanksgiving

U.S. commercial airplanes will be full during the Thanksgiving holiday period even as the number of travelers falls for the first time in seven years, the Air Transport Association said.

Planes will average 90 percent of seats filled on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Nov. 26, the three busiest travel days during the holiday period, the trade group for the largest U.S. carriers estimated in a statement last week. Total passengers will drop about 10 percent from a year earlier, according to the association.

Crowded planes and fewer travelers show the effects of the slowing economy and capacity cuts of at least 10 percent by major U.S. airlines this quarter to pare costs after jet fuel reached record prices in July. Carriers in September began parking aircraft, dropping unprofitable routes and eliminating jobs.

"Make no mistake, the airports will be busy and many flights will be 100 percent full," James May, the Washington- based group's president, said. "With fewer flights operating, that should provide some relief to the air- traffic management system."

The group wants the U.S. government to open military airspace to commercial planes during the holiday to help ease congestion, May said. The U.S. Defense Department has taken such steps for previous Thanksgiving, Christmas and Memorial Day holidays.

The Thanksgiving travel period runs from Friday, Nov. 21, through Tuesday, Dec. 2, the association said.

 

Can Blu-ray save Christmas?

LOS ANGELES » Movie studio executives on Friday presented the best-case scenario for a winter holiday surge in the purchase of high-definition Blu-ray players as their best hope to keep the U.S. home video market's decline from accelerating past 3 percent or 4 percent this year.

The executives hosted by The Digital Entertainment Group, a consortium of movie studios and electronics manufacturers, forecast that 10.5 million households would be able to play Blu-ray videos by the end of the year—with about 2.5 million standalone players and 8 million PlayStation 3 game consoles.

That estimate is much lower than the 14.4 million households that Adams Media Research said in June would be playing Blu-rays by the end of the year. But if it is to come true, about 1 million more standalone players and 2.3 million more PS3s must be sold through the holidays.

Prices have dropped in recent months, and Blu-ray players can be found online for less than $200, encouraging hope for adoption of the format.

 

Ad campaigns often backfire

Does sex really sell?

Oftentimes, sex doesn't sell anything other than itself, according to Martin Lindstrom's recently released book "Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy." His research found that a racy ad can often distract someone from a product altogether.

Lindstrom used MRI exams on more than 2,000 people to observe how they reacted to certain ads, and found that advertising myths like the one that "sex sells" can have unintended consequences for a company. More often than not, it's the consumer who's being fooled, he said.

Negative campaigns like anti-smoking billboards and commercials can help sell the very product they're warning against, Lindstrom said, driving people to crave tobacco because of a link formed in the brain between the message and the pleasure of smoking.

"These warnings are having the complete opposite effect of what people expect," Lindstrom said, noting that tobacco companies often fund anti-smoking campaigns.

"When we see these warnings, we let our critical guard down, making us even more vulnerable to this strategic advertising. It's manipulative, really. ... There are subliminal messages and pressures in everything we see and smell. We're affected by advertising in everything we do."