Spirit Airlines Ad Mocks BP Oil Spill

New airline ad asks passengers to 'Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches.'

ByABC News
June 22, 2010, 5:01 PM

June 22, 2010— -- Spirit Airlines is at it yet again with another controversial ad, this time seemingly poking fun at the BP oil spill.

The ad -- like past ones -- has caused some to question if the airline is trying to be cute or just drum up free publicity by creating a controversy.

Tuesday afternoon, the airline launched a "Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches" plus get $50 off promotion. An email advertising the deal featured four women in bikinis lathered in sun-tanning oil who are supposed to be in four of the Florida-based airline's beach resorts: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Cancun, Mexico; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"Check out the oil on our beaches. You won't be disappointed," the promotion read. "Plus, we're making it cheaper for you to get there!"

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But before anybody had a chance to digest this and see if it was funny or just exploiting the news about BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico -- you know, another type of oil washing up on the beach -- the airline put out a statement.

"It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today's beach promotion," the airline said. "We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots."

The strange thing is that the pseudo-apology came out just a little more than an hour after the sale was announced. If anybody was upset, they sure moved quickly.

"It's more shameful advertising from Spirit that comes on the heels of another questionable campaign regarding its own pilots' strike titled "*Strikingly* Low Fares" with an image of a bowling ball knocking down pins," Anne Banas, executive editor of travel Web site SmarterTravel told ABC News late Tuesday afternoon. "Not only does Spirit seem insensitive to its own employees, but it certainly doesn't put its customers first. Case in point: Spirit's devolving refund policy during the strike. Plus, these sales themselves aren't very great, and the only value seems to be shock value."