As the Rob Ford crack-smoking scandal continues to develop, uniting Americans and Canadians in a brotherhood of fascination and mutual horror, one airline is rushing to cash in. Spirit Airlines, the low-cost Florida-based carrier, took a shot at the Toronto mayor in an ad emailed to customers on Wednesday that said, “We’re not smoking crack. Fly to the Toronto area and other destinations from just $29.90”
The noir-ish ad showcased Ford’s bulky silhouette, enveloped in plumes of smoke. It even featured a red “record” button in the bottom-right corner of the screen, an obvious reference to a video Toronto police have that shows Ford smoking a crack pipe. In the wake of the video’s leaking, Ford has apologized more than once for his “mistakes,” but he refuses to step down.
It’s not the first time the airliner has released an advertisement that was criticized for being a little too “spirited” -- it’s not even the first time this month. On Nov. 8, in the aftermath of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, Spirit Airlines released an ad that poked fun at Jonathan Martin and his teammate Richie Incognito with the humorous slogan: “Don’t be bullied by high fares: Fly incognito out of Florida or any place for that matter.”
That ad prompted Josh Bernard of The Bully Expert to say the company was being “silly” and “cavalier” about a serious subject. "It's silly, and it's very cavalier on their part to take a subject that's so serious and effects [sic] so many families and children and to make that part of their humor and part of their marketing," Bernard told 7News. "I think it's just bad taste."
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Spirit responded, telling The Huffington Post in an email: "As with many of our sales, we take a thought-provoking tongue-in-cheek look at a recent news events and the related media reaction… We do not condone bullying."
Despite the company’s history of “tongue-in-cheek” ads, many who saw the ad on Wednesday expressed shock, not amusement. Here’s a rundown of some of the responses on Twitter. Spirit Airlines has not yet commented.
Just got a promotional email from Spirit airlines with the subject "We're not smoking crack!" Someone's about to get fired...
â€” Rebecca Woodward (@beckwoodward) November 14, 2013
â€” Joe Moses (@thejoemoses) November 14, 2013
Did spirit airlines really just send me an email titled "We're Not Smoking Crack"??? O_o pic.twitter.com/CPOBkEn83e
â€” amalia nicholson (@amalianicholson) November 14, 2013
Oh my god I can't believe this is spirit airlines ad campaign!!!! ARE THEY NUTS??? pic.twitter.com/kdvxUEbjQC
â€” Dee Roscioli (@Deeroscioli) November 14, 2013
â€” jeff mcclelland (@jeffMcClelland1) November 14, 2013