It may not be your usual idea of an installation but B-Loony, the UK’s leading supplier of advertising balloons, have been busy working with Paddy Power this year. To help Paddy Power promote special race days like the Grand National, Ascot and the Derby, B-Loony’s installation teams have been out in Britain’s High Streets up and down the country blowing up balloons and creating wonderful balloon arches. It really attracts the attention of passers-by who are drawn in to place a bet.

IMG_4126Commercial Director, Andy MacInnes, said that they have had really positive feedback from many of B-Loony’s retail customers who report a huge increase in footfall when balloons are used for an event. B-Loony works with its own network of balloon decorators nationwide and is able to manage the logistics for multi-site installations, often delivering services to major supermarkets and retailers.

Balloon arches or columns immediately attract attention outside a store at an opening event with passers-by eager to know what’s going on and handing balloons out on sticks to take home is guaranteed to get the families flocking. This was particularly successful at openings of new Primark stores.

“We are in the unique position of being able to supply creative balloon decoration and event solutions all over the country and have had to manage up to around 400 installations when a major retailer wants a promotion to break over a one or two day timeframe”.

As if to emphasise how balloons do have a special impact, at the end of August a French artist will fill the interior of Covent Garden market with 100,000 glowing white balloons as part of a vast pop-up installation. Charles Petillon, who is known for his technique of using balloons to create eerie images in everyday settings, said he uses balloons both because they are a universal symbol of joy that brings a playful element to his work.

Global shortage of helium

This brings us onto the debate that has been going on about the rights and wrongs of using balloons for advertising when there is a global shortage of this vital gas. Of course balloons can be used equally effectively without helium and filled much more cheaply with air.

It’s important to emphasise the distinction between pure, liquid helium and impure, gaseous helium.


Suppliers prioritise supplies of pure, liquid helium for critical medical uses e.g. MRI scanners in hospitals, ensuring that they can remain fully operational.

Helium for balloons is a different product – it is impure and gaseous and recovered as a by-product of supplying liquid helium for the MRI market – a market which makes up about half of the helium business in the UK. Impure, gaseous helium cannot be used in medical MRI scanners or in other applications that use super-conducting magnets.

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