The latest ad from Spirit says "Check out the Oil on Our Beaches." Yes, it's clearly a shot at the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico right now, but the pictures are of attractive women wearing suntan oil. So many things of questionable taste here. Making fun of a national disaster? Check. Getting very close to equating women to, ahem, "beaches" (say it with an accent, and you'll get it)? Check. The response? Hugely negative, as you'd expect, but it was picked up by all the major media outlets:
- Spirit Air ad mocks BP oil disaster - CNN
- Spirit Airlines Ad Mocks BP Oil Spill - ABC
- - CBS
- Keep It Classy, Spirit Airlines - BizJournals.com
Listen, media. If you really hate this, stop talking about it. This is Spirit's wheelhouse. They thrive on free advertising, and they subscribe to the motto that all press is good press. They really aren't concerned with a positive brand image in the traditional sense. Their brand is cheap fares. So you're only helping their cause by talking about it.
From my perspective, I think this is brilliant. As an ultra low cost carrier, Spirit is looking to keep costs low in every part of their business. All they have to do is slap a tasteless ad on their website and they get free national advertising. They do it time and time again, and you, media folks, keep helping their cause. Do you really think that people are going to avoid flying them because of this ad? It hasn't happened yet, and that's unlikely to change.
As long as their fares are cheap, people will fly them. And you're only helping them get the message out. So, kudos to you, Spirit. You have the media at your beck and call. No other airline can say that. You might even say that these media folks are your "beaches."