Skift Take

Should we view Spirit Airlines as the corporately responsible greenest U.S. airline or as the best gutter marketer in travel? Despite the mixed marketing messages, Spirit is following both tracks in becoming a highly successfu airline, and the envy of many of its peers.

Talk about mixed messages.

Spirit Airlines fired off an email yesterday touting its low fares, with the headline, “We’re Not Smoking Crack,” and the punch line, “our fares REALLY are this low!”

OK, we get it.

Jesting at the expense of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and his admissions about his boozing and occasionally crack-smoking ways, Spirit Airlines promotes its fare sales in an amusing and clever, yet predictable way.

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After all, this is the low-fare, fee-happy airline that has produced marketing materials on a congressional filibuster, Anthony Weiner’s sexting prowess, and Notre Dame football star Manti T’eo’s imaginary girlfriend, to cite a few recent examples.

The crack email contains a link to a Spirit marketing page where the airline details the fine print behind its $29.90 one-way fares to “select destinations” on “select dates.”

CEO Ben Baldanza argues that despite the grief the airline gets in the press, the people who matter most, love the airline’s low fares, with optional fees.

But, at the same time that Spirit is deftly making money marketing off the woes of a high-profile crack addict — or at least a crack dabbler — it also wants us to know that it is a pillar of corporate responsibility.

The same page that details its “We’re Not Smoking Crack!” fares also provides a link and more information so we can “Learn How Spirit is the greenest major U.S. airline.”

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So Spirit may massage the bottom line off the woes of the Toronto mayor, Anthony Weiner, Manti T’eo, Tiger Woods and others, but without missing a beat it appeals to socially responsible passengers with the message that “Spirit is Earth’s Favorite Way To Fly.”

The “greenest major U.S. airline” keeps on making green off the latest scandals.


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Tags: advertising, climate change, environment, marketing, spirit airlines

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