Forget their pretty imagery and seductive phrasing. A travel ad has a single purpose: to get you to spend your money. Sometimes, in their desperation to drum up business or create a buzzy campaign, advertisers fumble and manage to tick off lots of customers.
Spirit Airlines, which charges passengers extra if they so must as carry on a bag, was already the most tone-deaf of the U.S. airlines, but this ad, placed last June, repulsed even its hardened frequent fliers. In it, Spirit plugged its flights by making light of the BP oil spill.
As dead wildlife and ribbons of crude washed up on Gulf Coast beaches, fouling an entire sea, Spirit launched this smug promotion of the East Coast, Cancun, and Puerto Rico, untouched by the disaster. It was not only cruel to the many Americans whose lives were devastated by the spill. It was also a cheap shot. Making a buck off a calamity of unprecedented proportions? When it was suggested the ads might be insensitive, Spirit defended them in a statement: "The only oil you'll find when traveling to our beaches is sun tan oil." You stay classy, Spirit.