Spirit Airlines' New "69" Promotion Is Anything But Subtle

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY Spirit planes sit on the tarmac at Fort Lauderdale Internatational Airport May 21, 2004 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Low-cost airlines now account for about 20 percent to 25 percent of the market and in the U.S., that figure is predicted to rise to more than 40 percent within a few years. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Look, I see what you did there, Spirit Airlines. The first mention of "69 planes" in Spirit Airlines' latest promotion wasn't subtle ("We've been waiting to hit 69 planes for years"), nor was the second ("#69!") or the third ("Bare Fare! $69.00"), right down to "Spirit is in an even better position to get you where you're going." I geddit: You have 69 planes now. You think it's hilarious. I did, too, but only the first time. You took the joke too far, Spirit Airlines.

A bit of backstory: Spirit Airlines has 69 planes, and is running a pretty sweet deal to celebrate: $69 round-trip flights to a handful of destinations in April and May. For Spirit Airlines, that's the only backstory. Incidentally, on Monday the U.S. Department of Transportation gave Spirit Airlines its first-ever federal report card, and it wasn't pretty: Spirit ranked second for customer complaints (8 per 100,000 passengers) and was the most frequently delayed airline out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (68.5 percent of its flights arrived on time. Which, ironically, rounds up to 69).

The next day, this happened.

We've been waiting to hit 69 planes for years. It's our favorite number - ever since we were twelve and found that magazine under our brother's bed (the one with the fantastic articles). #69 is perfect: just the right size, with a cockpit that's in your face (because it's bright yellow). Use your mouth to spread the word: Spirit is in an even better position to get you where you're going. We're popping an epic Bare Fare in celebration! $69.00* round trip!

Here's the ad.

In a statement given to My Fox 9, Spirit Airlines said:

Spirit isn't your typical airline. In most cases different means saving our customers a lot of money on their air travel. When it comes to advertising, different means we don't spend a lot of money on advertising – because that just increases fares. But we're also different because our ads are fun and often irreverent.

We have a long history of taking major, national news stories, or just things we like to have fun with and connecting them to our marketing. The vast majority of our customers think they're funny, and accept them for what they are. We realize and accept that a small group of people might not think the same way.

Huh. Now I feel like a killjoy. Here's the thing about 69 jokes: like Apple TV costing $69 now, they're funny when they're not explicit. Nowhere in Tim Cook's Apple address this month did Cook say, "And then we thought it would be freaking hilarious to lower the price to match a sexual position" — which is exactly why it made everyone laugh. It's funny in a "giggling at the back of the classroom way," but it sure wouldn't be funny if the teacher came out and made a joke about 69-ing. You get me?

Don't get me wrong, Spirit: A $69 round-trip promotion is a great deal, and your sense of humor is unflappable. Just don't try to book your trip by Googling "69." It won't end well.

Images: Spirit Airlines

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