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Virgin Sues Adrants Over Fake Hudson River Jet Crash Ad

Ad blog Adrants has been sued by Virgin over its mistaken post that Virgin had taken advantage of the US Airways Hudson River airline crash with an ad calling the crash "Just one more reason to fly Virgin."

Virgin sued Adrants even though the blog corrected its item with a note saying, "UPDATE: Clearly, this ad is fake."

A cache of Adrants' original post (screenshot pictured) can be seen here. It pictured a Virgin ad with the copy, "The Hudson Crash: Just One More Reason to Fly Virgin."

Adrants' post said:

"We've seen Virgin turn ugly situations to its advantage before, making it very much in keeping with the Virgin brand persona. The only thing saving the tribute from being in terrifically bad taste is the fact that no one lost his or her life in the crash. So woot! - slather your big reds all over those news shots, V."
Later, Adrants posted:
"UPDATE: Clearly, this ad is fake. A spoof. Virgin America has confirmed this. We were always supect from he get go and didn't mean to mislead or misrepresent. So we'll clearly state now: the ad is a spoof. It's not real. Virgin America had nothing to do with its creation."
The suit claims trademark infringement, deceptive advertising, and defamation, among other claims. Read a copy of it here.

BNET's take: Virgin does not believe this lawsuit will ever come to court or succeed. The majority of its claims are spurious. For instance, to succeed on some of them, Virgin will have to prove that it suffered specific economic damages because of the Adrants post, i.e. by passengers choosing to fly on other airlines.

The claims are offset in part by Adrants immediate corrective that the item was a mistake, so the potential damages are already microscopic.

The real reason Virgin is doing this is to protect its brand from the internet. The airline knows that rumors and fake ads can go viral at astonishing speed, and once that happens rumor can replace truth. By taking a sledgehammer to this walnut it sends a clear signal to the blogoshere that repeating false information about Virgin has consequences.

Plus, Adrants is the perfect victim for Virgin because the T&A-focused site can hardly argue that it takes its journalistic responsibilities seriously.

Prediction: This suit will be quietly dismissed with the consent of both parties in a few weeks.

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