Is Spirit Airlines Actually an S&M Club With Wings? What 'Hate' Campaign Really Means

The Discount Airline is Encouraging Its Miserable Customers to Complain. Why?

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Spirit Airlines is getting a lot of attention this week for its new campaign -- which is basically a media stunt powered by a low-budget music video. At, Spirit is encouraging consumers to "Hate on us -- or any airlines of your choosing -- and we'll send you 8,000 FREE SPIRIT MILES. You'll be well on your way to earning an award flight with us."

Ode to Hate from Spirit Airlines on Vimeo.

As an attention-getting attempt to co-opt social-media criticism, it's not without precedent. See, for instance, the "Celebrities Read Mean Tweets" (about themselves) videos from "Jimmy Kimmel Live"; the seventh installment from May, starring Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Gary Oldman, Sofia Vergara and others, has racked up more than 19 million views on YouTube.

Anyway, how's the Spirit stunt going?

Frankly, the hatefest on Twitter has been a little underwhelming so far. Given the truly stellar hatefulness of some of the tweets mentioned in Spirit's video, you'd think the haters of the world would be inspired to crank up their game a bit.

Instead, the complaints about Spirit on Twitter from the last day or two seem rather run-of-the-mill and just ... defeated. (As if no social-media stunt or miles giveaway could get them back on Spirit, in fact.)

Those last two tweets in particular underscore the logic problem inherent to the promotion. Spirit Airlines wants its miserable customers to be miserable again? Wut?

In April, it's worth noting, the Airfarewatchdog blog published a poll revealing that its readers think Spirit has, by far, the rudest flight attendants. Given that, could we all be missing the point? Spirit may technically be an airline -- just barely -- but perhaps its real raison d'être is to serve the masochist community.

Maybe Spirit Airlines is actually an S&M club with wings. In which case, makes perfect sense.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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