Was Spirit Airlines ‘State of Hate’ Report Really a #PRWin?

Break-Spirit-Airlines-2Few things in this world are universal.

There are some exceptions: gravity makes things fall-down-and-go-boom, holding your breath past turning purple isn’t smart, and eating every once in a while is good for the body.

Also: flying on Spirit Airlines sucks out loud.

Sure, the initial flight charges are nice, but once you get nickel-dimed, you may as well be flying first class on a private jet. So, if you were the PR person for this airline of piss and vinegar evocation, what would you do?

Embrace the hate? They did that, and it worked.

Long delays. Completely random fees. Rude attendants. Layovers for days.

Spirit Airlines doesn’t have a good corporate reputation, to say the least. If you were in communications there, you might see it as an insurmountable obstacle … which could damper your own spirits on the job.

spirit airlines hateThe company, however, decided to have a little fun with the countless memes, vitriol, and angry customer service prank calls that have emerged on social media.

Thanks to some genius in the marketing and communications department, Spirit Airlines unveiled a “State of Hate” survey with a great amount of fanfare. In fact, according to CNN, close to 30,000 travelers filled out the survey over just a few days in exchange for 8,000 Spirit reward miles.

“I think if any organization asks for feedback, you would expect the vast majority of responses would be directed at the company that seeks it,” Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “But in this case, we were surprised that most consumers chose to share their frustrations about other airlines.”

Yes, thank you for the talking points — and make sure to blast the competition as well while you’re at it. The one that was well played was this infographic and survey.

But will this hoopla mislead the airline into thinking that its bad reputation is a good thing? More from Baldanza:

“Airlines mess up, and air travelers get frustrated The feedback we received makes it clear no airline is immune from upsetting their customers, and at Spirit, we can do a better job of explaining how flying with us is different.”

Different is an understatement. The question: will the company actually work on doing the “better job” mentioned above?

We hear that good will earned via self-effacing stunts has a very, very short shelf life.