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Spirit Airlines Pulls Tacky Oil Spill Campaign

201005-b-spiritairlines.jpg

Look who's at it again. In its latest marketing ploy to get (negative) attention, Spirit Airlines revealed—and then quickly pulled—its latest well-thought-out (that's sarcasm, folks) campaign: Check Out the Oil on Our Beaches.

Yes, really.

The ad was decked out with women in bikinis slathered in tanning oil, along with green and yellow "Best Protection" suntan lotion bottles—the B and P were slightly larger and bolder than the rest of the text...get it??

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. This is, in fact, the same airline that recently launched the following campaigns:

- The M.I.L.F. sale, which was said to mean Many Islands, Low Fares. (But uh, check out the 2nd image on the linked site.)
- "Check out our DDs!" In this case, DD apparently meant Deep Discounts and nothing else.
- "Pole Dancing Can Be Cold!" Supposedly this was to entice folks to head south for sunny weather. Uh huh.

Mind you, I'm no prude, but c'mon Spirit, at least own up to knowingly using these double entendres! (And accept the type of clientele you'll rope in as a result.)

Back to the latest: I fully support trying to rally travelers so the local tourism industry—which has already suffered from this devastating oil spill—doesn't completely flounder. But instead of a tacky, unsympathetic campaign that seems to poke fun at the disaster and was (probably) conceived completely for its shock value, why not show a little compassion for all the people deeply affected?

Spirit responded to the negative backlash (which it seems to thrive on) by pulling the campaign and releasing the following excuse:

It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today's beach promotion. We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots...The only oil you'll find when traveling to our beaches is sun tan oil.

*Sigh.*

We get it Spirit. You're the in-your-face type. You like push the limit. But do you really think this kind of marketing works? Sure, people are talking about you, but the only responses I've heard are of disgust, coupled with vows to never fly with you.

Earning the respect of travelers can go a long way. So maybe rethink this strategy, huh?

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Credit: Spirit Airlines

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