Spirit Airlines planes may soon be as overloaded with logos as a NASCAR vehicle. The ultra-low-fare carrier is actively seeking sponsorships on flight attendant aprons, window panels, and even custom-designed air sickness bags.
Spirit Airlines is known in the travel industry for many things: its low-fare, high-fee business model, its constantly expanding list of extra charges confronting passengers (carry-on bags and canned wine, as examples), its crass marketing ploys playing off hot topics ranging from the BP oil spill to the Anthony Weiner sex scandal.
What Spirit is not remotely known for, however, is being particularly classy. The airline's CEO Ben Baldanza routinely describes his planes as the equivalent of a bus with wings, and proudly refers to his company as the "dollar store of the sky." Clearly, what's most important to the airline—and what's most responsible for making Spirit a consistently profitable operation over the years—is its ability to keep internal costs low, while maximizing so-called ancillary revenues (anything a passenger pays over and above the base fare).
One emerging strategy Spirit is employing to offset costs is the shameless selling of advertisement in every nook and cranny of its planes. A year ago, the Sun Sentinel noted that Spirit had already begun selling advertising on flight attendant aprons and seatback trays, and asked Baldanza what the airline had next in store. "We are actively marketing other surfaces such as napkins, plane exteriors and overhead bins," Baldanza replied, adding that such arrangements helped allow Spirit to "keep airfares low."
Last month, it was announced that Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport would become Spirit's first "plane wrap partner," with DFW-themed 7-foot high by 75-foot long designs added to both sides of the aircraft timed to promote new Spirit routes to and from the gateway. And now, as the travel site Skift pointed out this week, Spirit is openly courting corporate sponsors to place brands, logos, and messages on far more unusual surfaces.
Marketers now have their choice of advertising on Styrofoam and plastic cups, in-flight menus, window panels, and yes, air-sickness bags that may be seen or at least "used" by Spirit passengers. In its marketing spiel aimed at potential advertisers, here's the pitch for space on the barf bag, which grants a company the right to spread one's message on 150,000 bags per quarter, at a cost of $30,000:
Custom-designed air sick bags are placed in every seat pocket and are taken by passengers for other uses than intended. Position your message in a creative way and you’ll spark conversation. Ideal opportunity for a special offer or coupon.
Less ideal: the possibility of consumers subconsciously thinking about vomit every time they come across your company logo.