A “Handy” bottle takes to the skies

At some time you must have stood still to watch, fascinated, the sight of a hot air balloon sailing across the sky. Many even dream of taking a hot air balloon ride for themselves. This summer a very special balloon may make them long for this even more. I have no doubt that the balloon in the form of cult orange washing-up liquid bottle “Handy”, developed by the Mibelle Group, will attract many an admiring glance.

Advertising medium with potential to develop cult following

It took just six months after its initial presentation for the 35-metre tall, bottle-shaped balloon to make its maiden flight. Even in their wildest dreams our Sales team and balloon pilot Stefan Wälchli never dared to hope that the Mibelle Group’s management would be so enthusiastic about the idea. Management immediately recognised the advertising potential of the Handy bottle shaped balloon. After we had checked feasibility and costs, we quickly got the green light to go head with construction. Our CEO, Luigi Pedrocchi, is convinced of the new balloon’s positive impact. “Both hot-air balloons and our washing-up liquid have cult status” he says. Combining them generates maximum sympathy for our product.

From the initial drawings to take-off

We asked Stefan Wälchli how he got the idea of the Handy balloon. “I wake up and go to sleep thinking about balloons”, he said. “After our washing-up liquid had already starred in the “Von uns. Von hier” (“From us. From here”) Migros campaign, it was pretty obvious, as balloons are so popular.”

The project team first had to do its homework. Starting with sketches, enquiries and then negotiations with a balloon manufacturer. There are just five in the world. Actual production, which involved sewing the balloon envelope, weaving the basket and installing the technical equipment, took around four months. The 35-metre height came from the requirement to be able to carry three people plus the pilot. When inflating and deflating the balloon you have to work quickly, because if the wind is strong it can quickly start to sway because of its unusual height. And muscle power is also required as the balloon is around twice the weight of a comparable standard balloon because of the additional strips of strengthening fabric and stabilisers. The travelling “giant Handy” has a cubic capacity of 2,600 metres of hot air – the equivalent of three detached houses.


“As soon as we take off I forget about all the hard work; the balloon flies just as well as any other”, enthuses Wälchli. “The start is an adventure, with the wind, the unknown destination, floating above the ground which we escape for a couple of hours.”


Mobile for the Mibelle Group

The maiden flight (film)showed just what a positive reaction the public has to the flying washing-up liquid bottle. People waved at the balloon and shouted “We’ve finished eating, you can do the washing up”. The next day a local newspaper contained an article entitled “The region has been washed up!“ Both Stefan Wälchli and Luigi Pedrocchi are hoping for a nice summer with good ballooning weather. It is hoped the Handy balloon will star at many events, as well as giving private passenger flights and taking part in ballooning meetings. You can book a flight in the Handy balloon on Stefan Wälchli’s website.

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