How Spirit Airlines Embraced Brand Hatred And Won
Spirit Airlines is a brand people love to hate. Perhaps you’ve seen one of the many tweets trashing the brand for charging fees for just about everything. Many brands offer up bland, apologetic statements when they run afoul of people’s expectations. But not Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines proudly stands behind its “cheap seats” approach to […]
Spirit Airlines is a brand people love to hate. Perhaps you’ve seen one of the many tweets trashing the brand for charging fees for just about everything. Many brands offer up bland, apologetic statements when they run afoul of people’s expectations. But not Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines proudly stands behind its “cheap seats” approach to marketing and embraces it fully.
Spirit airlines is the absolute WORST airline to fly with. How do you charge someone $50 for carry on luggage???
— Adaeze (@_Adaeze_) July 8, 2014
Speaking of embracing, a couple months ago, the airline reacted to an outpouring of hatred with an “Embrace the Hate” campaign. The airline launched a goofy video in which a hipster dude plays guitar and a women with an impossibly cute mousey voice highlights hate tweets aimed at the brand.
Fully embracing its “It’s a cheap seat, for a cheap ass” approach to things, the video has fun with several tweets humbly turning the hatred around and refocusing things squarely on the brand’s mantra, that they are, indeed, cheap. They even throw in a dick joke for good measure:
But the greatest thing they did, and what makes this campaign a win, is to debut a site called H8teThousandMiles.com (but solely found at the more conventional HateThousandMiles.com URL) on which people can “let their hate go” and earn 8,000 free Spirit miles.
On the site, the brand actually encourages people (at least those who have a Free Spirit Member Number) to submit statements of hatred for the airlines and, in a brilliant stroke of stealth research, hatred for other airlines as well. Doing so gifts 8,000 miles to the member’s frequent flyer account.
In terms of viral success, it doesn’t appear to be a huge win. The video on the brand’s Vimeo channel has just over 21,000 views since launch. There are another 7,000 or so on YouTube. But the big win, really, is the hate site they launched and all the free press they are getting for the campaign.
Not every brand can squarely meet people’s expectations at the outset. In the case of Spirit Airlines, or any airline, people just want cheap. But they want that cheap price to include everything. But Spirit — and Ryanair — do things a bit differently. They have very, very low seat prices but everything else is extra. That approach takes some education, especially in America where this pricing approach is less common than it is in Europe.