Spirit Airlines Posts, Then Pulls, Colombia Sex Scandal Ad Campaign
April 23, 2012 at 2:18 PM
Spirit Airlines has declared itself proud to be the Ryanair of North America, and you have to admit that the airline works hard to protect its title. Airline industry scientists have spent years trying to untangle what it means to follow in the footsteps of the notoriously grating Irish LCC, and they've discovered at least 5 criteria: (1) obnoxious fees (2) pride in those obnoxious fees (3) arm-waving "look at me" advertising (4) a general air of petulance whenever something doesn't go the airline's way, and (5) unblinking, reflexive, utterly unapologetic disrespect for customers.
Spirit recently doubled down on their customer-screwing fees, announcing that they consider it a badge of honor to be the "poster child" for airline fees and adding that their customers like the fees too. That takes care of criteria 1, 2, and 5. The petulance stuff is covered by the temper tantrum they threw about new fee transparency rules they didn't like, which leaves only the advertising thing. All of which brings us to Spirit's most recent travel advertising campaign.
Built around two of the scandals currently rocking the Obama administrationthe GSA spending scandal and the Secret Service prostitution clusterfarkSpirit offered "scandal-free" and "More Bang for Your Buck!" fares to Florida and Colombia respectively. Yes the were advertising around politically-infused developments that were wrecking the lives of actual living people, and yes they had done that before with sales built around Anthony Weiner and Schwarzenegger-Shriver and Charlie Sheen, but that's who they are and that's what they do.
Two punchlines for you. One, Spirit had to pull the prostitute ad at the Colombian government's request for being insanely offensive, reflecting what we told you last week about how the government wants nothing to do with the scandal (always trust Jaunted content!). Two, even we have to admit that Spirit is undeniably a category killer that disrupts whatever market or route it enters. The airline is highly profitable, not least of all because of these sorts of stunts. But it's also apparently filled with douchebags, so there is that.
[Photo: Spirit Airlines via ABC News]