Forget their pretty imagery and seductive phrasing. A travel ad has a single purpose: to get you to spend your money. Sometimes, in their desperation to drum up business or create a buzzy campaign, advertisers fumble and manage to tick off lots of customers.
Spirit Airlines, which charges passengers extra if they so much as carry on a bag, was already the most tone-deaf of the U.S. airlines, but this ad, placed last June (left), repulsed even its hardened frequent fliers. In it, Spirit plugged its flights by making light of the BP oil spill. As dead wildlife and ribbons of crude washed up on Gulf Coast beaches, fouling an entire sea, Spirit launched this smug promotion of the East Coast, Cancun, and Puerto Rico, untouched by the disaster.