By almost every measure, the recent Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE), held April 14-16, was a smashing success. Almost every.

After all, it boasted 38 aircraft on static display — triple the number from the first ABACE in 2005 — ranging from piston singles and helicopters through intercontinental business jets. There were 183 exhibitors, which was five times the original number, and more than 70 of those at this year’s gathering were from Asia. Those attending the Shanghai event hailed from China and 40 other countries across the globe.

Moreover, officialdom was there in goodly numbers, including the deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to The People’s Republic of China, the assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the chairman of the Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA), among others.

Once the show concluded, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen declared, “It is clear that business aviation has not only become established in the region, but is flourishing.”

Considering that his organization is the major force behind ABACE, the boss can be granted some hyperbolic license. It’s true that business aviation has a much greater presence in The People’s Republic than it had, say, 15 years ago when it was virtually nonexistent. Growth estimates had planemakers, management and charter outfits beaming. But the more immediate trending fact is that the industry’s impressive growth there is at best pausing, and may actually be in retreat.

There are several factors contributing to the current condition, including a slowed economy, sky-high import tariffs, lack of infrastructure and ATC constraints. But what really silenced the music and got partygoers scrambling for the exits is a campaign by Communist leaders in Beijing to root out corruption within government and the private sector. And it seems the ownership and use of a business jet is ipso facto evidence of that person’s wrongdoing. Apparently the public loves the campaign.

Didn’t take them long, did it?

Government and public disdain for those using business jets is nothing new. The privileged always make easy targets for the envious, ascetics and demagogues. There’s been evidence of that aplenty in recent years.

Just a month or so ago a Sprint commercial got passed around the business aviation Internet. The 30-sec. spot featured three pampered millennials exiting one business jet and boarding another. They dismissed the telephone company’s suggestion that the savings its plan provided would allow them to “spend money on stuff you want” since “We have all the stuff. We’re rich.”

The voice-over categorized the threesome as “stupid rich,” and it would be hard to argue with the classification. But as with China’s position of presumed guilt, it’s a word pairing that cannot be applied to the vast majority of business aircraft users. They absolutely value savings, and investing in tools that further their enterprises.

In April, The Wall Street Journal published a feature on film producer Brian Grazer. In it, he said face-to-face meetings with subjects were critically important since “there’s so much more information through body language and eye contact and nuance, and all of those things enable you to build more questions.” And elicit more responses.

That’s exactly the advantage business aircraft provide their users and the value seems to be broadly accepted.

John Emmerling, an old friend, is a veteran advertising executive and pilot who now serves as an innovation consultant. When he operated his own agency — yes, on Madison Avenue — his clients included FlightSafety International, NetJets, Jet Aviation and Dassault Falcon Jet, along with some banks, magazines, the U.S. Coast Guard, even the IRS.

He says that during the 20+ years he handled business aviation advertising, none of his other clients, nor anyone else he encountered, took issue with business aircraft promotion or usage. “I never got a single negative reaction,” he says, which upon reflection, he finds a bit surprising.

As for Sprint’s ad campaign, he suggests patience: “The bizjet spot will disappear soon, or may be gone already — the newest Sprint spot features a filthy rich mother and daughter at a charity auction bidding huge for stupid stuff.”

Regardless, the former adman says the industry could counter any disapproval among the general public through social media with a short video of its own, preferably one featuring passionate business aircraft users who are broadly admired and much in the public eye. A few he suggested immediately were Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and even Jay-Z, “for contrast.

“Post that video on YouTube,” he says, “send emails with a link telling everyone in the industry to check it out, and that sucker might go viral.”

But what about China? “Cue Jackie Chan.” B&CA

This column appears in the June 2015 issue of Business & Commercial Aviation under the title, "Righting the Wrongheaded."