Spirit never mentions the congressman or his scandal in the ad — the references are clear enough.
“Hurry to book now,” the Spirit Web site read. “Before this sale gets hacked.”
In 2009, Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza told Airline Weekly that the company practices “shock marketing” to keep advertising costs low. “People get the e-mail and forward it to their friends,” he said.
Spirit has been criticized for earlier shock promotional campaigns, including an ad it released after the BP oil spill disaster that showed a sunscreen-covered sunbather with the tagline: “Check out the oil on our beaches.” It later pulled the ad.
“They’re quick decision-makers in the sense of ‘Why not take advantage of this?’” Arun Sharma, a marketing professor at the University of Miami, told McClatchy Newspapers.
Sharma dismissed the possibility of a backlash from customers who would be uncomfortable with the promotion and said Spirit already had gained big from the media attention.
Spirit is an ultra-low-cost carrier that flies to destinations such as the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Latin America. It has been criticized by customers for tacking on a number of fees after the ticket price.