The RE/MAX Balloon
RE/MAX Balloon Fleet
A company image seven stories tall. Multiply that by more than 90 and you have the largest fleet of hot air balloons in the world. Across North America and now increasingly around the globe, the red, white, and blue balloons emblazoned with the RE/MAX logo participate in balloon meets, highlight charitable and business promotions, and drift above athletic events.
And as the size of the actual fleet continues to grow, images of the tricolor RE/MAX Balloon logo multiply through every visual form of advertising and promotion. The RE/MAX Balloon, its logo form, and the accompanying "Above the Crowd"® slogan are all increasingly equated in the public mind with the RE/MAX organization itself.
Soaring Home Balloon
The most eye-catching member of the fleet is the Soaring Home special-shape balloon. Children and pets peek from the windows of this whimsical house, which has wide eyes, a button nose and a big grin. A RE/MAX "Sold" sign stands out front and small RE/MAX Balloons fly overhead.
Light as houses go but heavy for a balloon, the special-shape envelope weighs nearly 800 pounds. Inflated, it is almost 60 feet high and 55 feet wide. Soaring Home appears at sporting events and balloon festivals across North America.
The First RE/MAX Balloon
Admittedly, when RE/MAX first began its relationship with hot-air ballooning in 1978, the motivation was pretty straightforward: as a fledgling real estate network we needed a marketing image that would get noticed.
Just five years old at the time, RE/MAX already held more market share in Denver, the network's birthplace, than any competitor. Word of mouth was spreading fast about the network of highly experienced real estate agents who were proving to be more experienced, productive and knowledgeable than anyone else on the scene.
But market studies showed that among consumers in general, name recognition of RE/MAX ranked well below many lesser competitors.
Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a few RE/MAX agents and their regional leaders dreamed up the idea of entering a red-over-white-over blue RE/MAX Balloon in the 1978 Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. The RE/MAX ground crew wore jackets with patches that read, "Above the Crowd"®, a phrase devised by an Affiliate. And as often is the case with hot-air balloons, the RE/MAX Balloon really grabbed some attention. Plus, the imagery meshed perfectly with the RE/MAX network's emphasis on innovation, freedom and leadership.
RE/MAX International executives in Denver enthusiastically adopted the balloon image as the corporate logo. Within a year, Colorado had its own RE/MAX Balloon, and featured it prominently in a local television campaign. Within four months, RE/MAX held top name recognition in the Denver market.
Growth of the Fleet
The first gathering of RE/MAX Balloons was at the 1982 RE/MAX Great Balloon Race in Toronto. Six balloons participated.
Only six years later, 18 RE/MAX Hot Air Balloons were brought together outside Fenton, Mich. Spectacular helicopter footage of their morning flight over misty Midwestern countryside provided the basis of the RE/MAX "Take a Step Above the Crowd"® advertising campaign.
The third and thus far the largest mass ascension of RE/MAX Balloons took place in the foothills outside Denver in 1989, when 54 RE/MAX Balloons launched and were filmed in flight for yet another RE/MAX commercial. The grand RE/MAX ascension took place a day before the opening of the RE/MAX Balloon Festival, the largest charity balloon event ever held. Attracting 223 hot-air balloons from across North America, the festival was a fun-flying meet designed on a grand scale. Proceeds from the sale of tickets were shared between children's charities.
Promotion and Advertising
Besides highlighting promotional events, RE/MAX Balloons fly at all the major - and many minor - hot-air balloon meets across North America. RE/MAX Balloon pilots introduce school classes to ballooning, and couples ask to be married in the balloon.
The average RE/MAX Balloon makes 65 appearances a year, each event averaging more than an hour, for a fleet total of about 6,400 hours of advertising - equal to nearly nine months of 24-hour flying. RE/MAX expects to pass the 100-balloon fleet milestone in the near future.
The network's major graphic symbol, the RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon image appears on "for sale" signs, bus benches, billboards, in print advertising and television commercials. It is one of the most widespread and recognizable images in business marketing.