Spirit Airlines caused some controversy with a web promotion that made light of the Gulf Coast oil spill. Within a day, the ad was pulled from Spirit’s site and the airline responded to criticism with a semi-apologetic press release. In the original ad, Spirit exhorted readers to “Check Out the Oil on Our Beaches.” Lest anybody miss the message, the ad also featured bottles of sunscreen printed in yellow and green, with the name “Best Protection.” Get it, BP (BP)?
When called on the mat, the company offered a response that hearkens back to grade school. Using the “we’re innocent; if you saw something offensive, it’s because you have a dirty mind” gambit, the company stated “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 company then reiterated its original point: “The only oil you’ll find when traveling to our beaches is sun tan oil,” reported DailyFinance.
On the surface, Spirit’s argument holds a little bit of water. After all, the company is headquartered in Miramar, Fla. Located on the eastern coast of the state, it has yet to be hit with oil from the BP spill. The same is also true of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, both of which are major markets for the airline.
The company prides itself on its offensive ad campaigns, said the story, and the controversy that they generate are a central part of its business plan.
See the ad below: