When you think of Spirit, you probably have a negative impression of the airline, right? The DOT complaint numbers show that a lot of people feel that way, but Spirit wants to change that. No, they're not looking to improve their service but rather they want people to better understand what they're all about.
Spirit is an airline that has floated through several identities over the years. It used to be a Detroit-based airline, then it moved to Florida and became a leisure carrier. Recently, it has pushed heavily into the Caribbean and Latin America. But over time, the airline has stripped more and more off the product to become what they like to call a ULCC, ultra low cost carrier.
The problem is that people don't really know what to expect. They're expecting a flight like they would on any other airline and that gap between perception and reality is probably the biggest reason that Spirit gets so many complaints. What's the solution? Tell people who they are.
Only one problem with that strategy - this airline doesn't like to spend money on anything. So a huge branding campaign is hardly going to happen here. They tend to rely on free publicity to get their message across. Historically, they would put up controversial ads on their website and wait for everyone to start talking about them. (Remember, the MILF ad?)
That may have brought people in the door, but it didn't really explain who Spirit was. More recently, they've been quite successful at finding themselves a national audience. And this time they're talking a lot about the airline.
This has to be helpful for them in getting the word out about what they do and how they do it. Of course, this doesn't mean they've given up on the controversial ad strategy. In fact, they've even made the move to television for this spot:
You still have to get people in the door, right? And how else are they going to get Bill O'Reilly to keep talking about them?
Now that Spirit seems to have a very firm strategy, I would think that the effort to educate people on the business model will pay off for them with higher customer satisfaction ratings and fewer complaints. They'll never be at the top, but as long as their fares are at the bottom, they probably don't care.