A Blimp Just Flew Over Florida, Poking Fun at Spirit Airlines

Asian Carrier Scoot Says Spirit's Branding Looks Awfully Similar to Its Own

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Scoot's blimp
Scoot's blimp Credit: Scoot

Say you notice that another company halfway across the world seems to be imitating your brand identity, using similar colors, design and humor. You could start an expensive legal battle -- or you could just fly a blimp past the purported copycat's headquarters.

Singaporean low-cost carrier Scoot has been tallying up ways Spirit Airlines' branding seems strangely similar to its own -- like the bright yellow brand color, the hand-printed font, the icons and the cheeky jokes. (Scoot's explainer video is here -- see any similarities?)

So Scoot has pulled a few stunts poking fun at fellow budget carrier Spirit, which already gets a lot of jabs online for its cramped quarters and customer service. On Thursday, Scoot sent a blimp past Spirit's headquarters in Miramar, Fla.

"Fingers are often pointed at Asian companies for imitating those of the West, so we thought as an Asian company we should have a bit of fun with this and turn the tables, and perhaps call out a Western company that seems to be imitating us," said Campbell Wilson, CEO of Scoot.

The yellow blimp bore the message, "Hey Spirit, You Can't Have Our Scootitude." Scootitude is what the brand calls its "fun, friendly and quirky" positioning. Its humor has sometimes pushed boundaries in Asia, where air travel is often a formal, serious affair -- Scoot touted the legroom in its premium cabin with the tagline "7 inches of extra pleasure."

Scoot, which started flying in 2012, is owned by Singapore Airlines and is independently managed. Spirit predates Scoot and has long been known for tasteless attempts at marketing humor. The other similarities started cropping up after the U.S. airline rebranded in 2014.

The Asian carrier started its series of publicity stunts with a video on its Facebook page, and it got more than 56,800 views. Then it sent a "brand toolkit" to Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza, including a cartoon called "How to create a Scoot ad in under 5 minutes." The Singaporean carrier says it is also renaming one of its planes after Spirit, because the U.S. airline is apparently a big fan. Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore worked on the campaign.

So why all the fuss -- why not go through legal channels?

"It's a different part of the world, we are not in a litigious culture, and frankly we think lawsuits are really not our style," Mr. Wilson said.

Spirit didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But after the Facebook video came out, Spirit spokesman Paul Berry told Channel News Asia: "We think it's fun and the type of provocative stunt we'd pull to get attention. While there are similarities, our brand and concepts were developed independently."

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