AirTran Not A Bud Fan
by ANN Associate Editor Rob Finfrock
No, this isn't another
story about the United pilot who was pulled from the cockpit in
Miami this weekend allegedly smelling of alcohol, or even those two
America West guys now serving time for TWI (taxiing while
intoxicated) -- although one could argue this was somewhat inspired
Anheuser-Busch, the company known for its commercials that are
often about as tasteful as its Budweiser and Bud Light beers, is
now taking it on the chin for an advertisement mocking, of all
things, pilots who work for discount airlines.
With such notable quotes as "Your minimal experience flying a
plane will never land you at a reputable airline. Luckily, you
don't work for one" and "You put the fly in fly-by-night
operation," the advertisement saluting "Mr. Discount Airline Pilot
Guy" has incurred the wrath of AirTran Airways-- the carrier
formerly known as ValuJet.
The radio ad, part of the drink maker's "Real Men Of Genius"
campaign (other spots have saluted "Mr. Giant Pocket Knife
Inventor," "Mr. Obvious Toupee Wearer" and "Mr. Gangsta Rapper
Posse Member") ran just once in January.
However, the spot has remained on Adforum.com, an industry Web
site, and is also making the rounds among pilots, according to the
Wall Street Journal (who would also like to remind us they really
have better things to be talking about, people.)
AirTran is reportedly waiting for an apology from
Anheuser-Busch. Until they get one, the LCC is considering dropping
Bud and Bud Light beer from its flights.
"You may deem the commercial to be satirical, but I find it
highly offensive," AirTran Chairman and Chief Executive Joe Leonard
told the WSJ.
In a response e-mailed to CNN, Anheuser admitted the ad was in
bad taste and apologized.
"This campaign was meant to poke fun at slices of everyday life,
but this execution clearly crossed the line and is in poor taste,"
read the statement. "We extend our apologies to pilots and everyone
in the airline industry."
Pilots aren't the only ones who are poked fun at in the
advertisement. The flying public in general takes its lumps,
"Sure, we're concerned for our lives, just not as concerned as
saving nine bucks on a round-trip to Fort Myers," says the
announcer over a background rock riff. "The most direct route to
Houston, through Fort Lauderdale. With layovers in Detroit,
Vancouver and Kalamazoo."
Anheuser-Busch claims they have asked Adforum.com to pull the
advertisement as the site did not have permission to post it.
Adforum says the ad was pulled Tuesday.
However, the drink maker's own phone system still plays the ad,
as an AirTran official discovered when he called to complain...
about hearing the ad on Adforum.com.
To paraphrase the queen, he was not amused.