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Fred Jacobs is President of Jacobs Media, a media research and consulting firm. Jacobs Media clients have included CBS Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Citadel, Greater Media, MTV Networks, Playboy, Amazon, Electronic Arts, NPR, Sylvan Learning Centers, and Taubman Malls. Learn more about the company here.

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August 2011

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« Learning To Fly | Main | On B-A-L-A-N-C-E »

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In a tough industry, it’s hard to stand out. But Spirit has done just that – trying very hard to, at times, out-Southwest Southwest.

Joel Denver

I applaud Spirit's "spirit" here. Sure there are going to be some who are going to put on their public 'blue nose' and act all offended.

Everyone sees worse "double entendre" almost daily.

While everyone's entitled to their opinion here is mine:

I think Spirit got more looks and attention doing this "top of mind" marketing and therefore better bang for their buck (oooops, he said "bang") with this campaign than if they'd just advertised the fare pricing special in a traditional manner.

Lorilewis

Hi Joel!!
In a world where it's 'hard' to stand out and cut through the clutter, I too stand behind Spirit's email marketing campaigns.

I do agree with Tim that there is a line where you can go too far but the Weiner sale didn't cross it for me. Funny stuff :)

Scott Hanley

Isn't Spirit Airlines one of the "most complained about" airlines, too? I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity, since we are now talking about their marketing instead of their consumer complaints.

Lorilewis

Great thoughts Wholesale Jerseys. I agree with you that it's a tough industry to stand out in. Spirit has found a way to do just that and stay in business.

Hi Scott! I agree with your guess of Spirit Airlines being the most 'complained about' airlines within its industry.

I remember the morning show I worked on at 98ROCK/Tampa was hands down the most complained about radio show in perhaps the history of Tampa radio yet we dominated the airwaves every ratings period. Funny how that sometimes works out for brands isn't it :)
Thank you for your input!

Tim Davis

Obviously this approach had some impact the folks at Spirit liked - because they did a follow up the next day.

However the real question is, ultimately does this buzz convert to business? When it comes down to it, just because we are talking about them doesn't mean people are actually buying more tickets, right?

Does this kind of "blue" advertising really create new sales or is it a momentary spike in brand awareness, but with a huge caveat noting the bad taste in many people's minds?

And if it's true they are terribly lackluster in the service department, it's worth noting that it is still part of the conversation as three of us have now mentioned it.

JJ Duling

Funny how some are objecting. It's this and it's that, etc.

REMINDER: they got us talking about it, didn't they? It created a buzz, didn't it?

Mission accomplished, Spirit Airlines.

Buzz Brindle

Breaking it down in terms that we radio types understand, I suspect that the take-away for those attracted to AC/Classical/NPR formats will be a negative brand image for Spirit while those attracted to Rock/CHR/Talk might view the brand in a more positive light.

I'll be interested to see if Spirit can build on their notoriety to create a more well-known & sought-after brand.

(PS-Since we're all radio types & warped by definition, I don't consider any of us to be "normal" & representative of the general public.)

Brent Alberts

The old saying "doesn't matter what they say about you, as long as they get your name right" applies here. I thought it was humorous. Did not make me think negative of the airline at all. I loved the point/counter-point with Tim and Lori. They both have good points, although I agree more with Lori. It will get people talking about them, anytime you can get above all the daily noise like that, I think you have succeeded.

Tim Davis

I'm in no way arguing against the fact this type of stunt generates buzz - it does/did, and will probably have some residual impact on the overall brand.

My primary point is to question whether the buzz can be converted to revenue in a meaningful way, considering the potential cost/damage that this type of approach inflicts.

No doubt this is a PR coup - but is it a *business* coup, too? Is the airline industry big enough and so undifferentiated so that a "bad boy" brand can have a (successful) place?

I'm glad for the dialogue here - because I think many of us grapple with these concerns with regard to imaging and talent. But in radio: buzz = sampling = ratings = revenue (in theory - we know some controversial jocks, despite great ratings are a tough sell).

But when you have to sell an actual product - where consumers vote with their wallet, not their ears - I'm not convinced this approach (at least to this extreme within this industry) is the best path.

Lorilewis

Thank you J.J., Buzz, Brent and Tim for the comments. It's really great reading everyone's take.

Citing a study from Amadeus IT Group SA and IdeaWorks Co, The Wall Street Journal reported that airlines increased revenue by a total of almost $22 billion last year through adding special fees to ticket sale and Spirit Airlines was one of the top airlines to benefit from this growth.
I'd say their marketing is a 'business' coup as much as a 'buzz' coup :)

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too? I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity, since we are now talking about their marketing instead of their consumer complaints.

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This campaign maybe heard from many. Just continue what you started.

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