PHILADELPHIA – Derrie-Air has been exposed.
Readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News opened their papers Friday to see ads for a new airline called Derrie-Air, which purportedly charges passengers by the pound.
But the new carrier will never get off the ground. It's a one-day advertising campaign about a fake airline by Philadelphia Media Holdings, the papers' owner, and Gyro ad agency.
In light blue banners throughout the papers — as well as on their Web site, Philly.com — Derrie-Air cheerily trumpets its policy: The more you weigh, the more you pay. The ads direct readers to the Web site www.flyderrie-air.com.
Philadelphia Media Holdings spokesman Jay Devine said the goal is to "demonstrate the power of our brands in generating awareness and generating traffic for our advertisers, and put a smile on people's faces."
The company will track traffic to the Derrie-Air site. Devine said there's already buzz about the campaign on online blogs.
Visitors to the airline site learn that Derrie-Air is the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline, justifying its pay-by-the-pound policy by saying that it takes more fuel to move heavier objects. The carrier pledges to plant trees to offset every pound of carbon its planes release into the atmosphere.
Derrie-Air's sample rates range from $1.40 per pound to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago to $2.25 per pound to fly from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
But those who scroll to the bottom of the site find out the truth behind Derrie-Air.
A disclaimer labels the ad campaign "fictitious" and says it is designed "to test the results of advertising in our print and online products and to stimulate discussion on a timely environmental topic of interest to all citizens."
"In other words," it says, "smile, we're pulling your leg."