Spirit Airlines Mocks Charlie Sheen's Ravings in Latest Ad: Tasteless?

Spirit Airlines Charlie Sheen


Spirit Airlines, which topped our list of offensive ads earlier this week, is at it again. Its latest sale is makes light of the disturbing drug-themed ravings of Charlie Sheen.

"BRING IT' with 'WINNING' fares starting as low as $27* each way, based on round-trip purchase!" declares the bargain-bin airline in an ad for its "Living the Dream" sale. The phrase is a reference to Sheen's tragic downward spiral now being played out before the cameras.

The mainstream media is so concerned about Sheen's hard-partying ways that many outlets have written early obituaries in the event of his sudden death. At Spirit, though, the increasingly nonsensical ravings of a confessed drug addict are fodder to sell airline seats.

Sheen's antics are a big target for comics this week, and the media has gleefully participated in what could be one of the most public cries for help in history. (Sheen claims to be clean, having cured himself with "the power of my mind.") Although his unpredictable statements don't have to do with travel, Spirit has a history of trying to raise controversy with shocking marketing campaigns.

The airline topped AOL Travel's list of tasteless ads for making light of the Gulf Coast's tragic oil-spill misfortunes. In that campaign, the airline bragged that the only oil on the beaches it serves is rubbed onto the skin of attractive female models in bikinis. The ads ran while the BP spill was still devastating lives.

"Face it folks, you don't have to be a rock star from Mars to live the dream!" crows its new ad, making a punch line out of a Sheen outburst from NBC's Today.

Remember when all of America made fun of Anna Nicole Smith's stumbling and slurred speech? She was a national punchline for outrageous drinking and drugging. But that laughter abruptly ended with the sudden death, of unnatural causes, of her 20-year-old son. Soon Smith herself overdosed at at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Now we recognize her misadventures as a situation that desperately needed to be stopped.

Spirit may get a pass for making light of a sad situation that half the country is talking about this week. But it's harder to defend other parts of the ad: Spirit's advertised rate isn't even the whole fare. That asterisk is there because that deceptively low price of $27 doesn't include taxes, fuel fees, airport charges, or security fees, all of which can add more than $100 per trip. That crucial fact is buried in the fine print.

You may not find the Sheen reference tacky as long as he's still alive. But even if you use the power of your own mind, you can't make Spirit's $27 price anything but a dream.

Executive Editor Jason Cochran is online at JasonCochran.com and Facebook, and on Twitter as @bastable.
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