Denver International Airport is hiring someone to sell ads on its giant, glow stick billboard

Always. Be. Closing.
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The new illuminated sign at Denver International Airport, Nov. 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

In an era of advertising when our private conversations elicit uncannily targeted ads, isn't it refreshing to know that the electrified sign ushering people in and out of Denver International Airport will soon provide an array -- no, a bouquet -- of commercials curated by humans?

The Denver City Council's Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee advanced a contract Wednesday that would put Outfront Media in charge of slinging ads for DEN's 1,000-foot-long luminous sign along Peña Boulevard. The airport's goal is to raise enough money to cover the cost of the $14.5 million sign within seven to 10 years.

So far the electric billboards have brought in just two companies and $21,000 but that's because the airport has not been very proactive, DEN spokeswoman Emily Williams said. The airport has been using its in-airport ad sales operator while it sought a contractor that could handle the sign.

"The airport is not the expert in selling advertising," she said.

The five-year contract with Outfront will pull in $1.2 million in its first year, DEN estimates, with $804,000 going to the taxpayer-owned airport. Outfront pockets the rest.

Advertisers have their pick of two 48-foot-wide, 16-foot-high signs on the approach to the airport, and one at the exit. Don't expect to see any commercials for tobacco, marijuana, religion or politics -- they're banned.

City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega asked if the city could ban certain ads, you know, like ones for the the massive Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in competing Aurora?

"The short answer is that we would permit commercial advertising on the welcome sign," said Dan Reimer with the city attorney's office. "The advertising guidelines ... do not distinguish between different types of  commercial businesses. We do have the power to manage content in displays at the airport but we do not choose what type."

This article was updated to correct the revenue figure from 2018 ad sales.

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