Alaska Airlines Magazine October 2008 Advertising is a tell tale sign of many things. Sales, though, is not one of them.

I remember the fat, advertising-crazy magazines of the dot-com era like Red Herring and The Industry Standard. It would take you two coast-to-coast flights just to read the ads, let alone the actual content in these 1″ behemoths. That of course was a great example of the separation of marketing from sales. Great ads are not necessarily indicative of a great company. More likely they demonstrate a strong creative team or agency.

Done right, marketing brands the company, and fills the sales pipeline with good, qualified leads. Done poorly and your board will watch money evaporate – sometimes themselves getting caught up in their own spin “look we’re the cover story!”.

So we thought we would revisit ad spending, this time measuring where the marketing dollars were going along west coast real estate developments.

Alaska Airlines magazine is a perfect source for this non-scientific research; it targets travelers from the west coast, and flies all of North America: Canada, the United States and Mexico (10 destinations, 3 in Baja, and 7 on mainland Mexico).

Given the state of the economy, and real estate, we suspected this information would be even more interesting. Do real estate developers spend more marketing money when they are doing well? Or do they ramp it up when leads are drying up?

Here are the results below from the October 2008 issue of Alaska Airlines magazine. Next time you fly Alaska, skim through the current issue and see how it compares. You may be surprised what you can learn about shifting buying patterns, demographics and marketing strategy.

Note: we did not include hotels/inns or other non-ownership based offerings. We also excluded non-west coast locations; there were a few, but not many of them.

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear