A screenshot of Derrie-Air's site

Fake Airline Ad Draws Clicks and Controversy

June 11, 2008 06:45 AM
by Liz Colville
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News ran ads for a fake airline in their print and online editions, prompting a debate over journalistic integrity.

30-Second Summary

Intended to compare the reach of print with online advertising, the ads were for a fictional, environmentally-friendly airline called Derrie-Air that based its fares on passengers’ weight. According to Editor & Publisher, the online version of the ads received a 1.25 percent click-through rate, much higher than the national average of 0.05 percent.

Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute called the ads “deception.” He told Editor & Publisher magazine, “I can’t imagine the Inquirer and Daily News would run fake ads from other companies.”

Other journalism experts believe the ads could “spark distrust” in regular readers, but the newspapers appeared to think of the move as a lighthearted form of “market research,” which they performed in conjunction with the ad agency Gyro. The ads came just days after media speculation that desperate airlines could, indeed, start charging passengers by weight.

The Derrie-Air Web site explains the airline’s joking mission: “[N]ot only will we do our part to protect the environment, we will expect you, our passengers, to do your part as well. The magic comes from our one of a kind ‘Sliding Scale’—the more you weigh, the more you’ll pay.”

Headline Link: ‘Philly False Airline Ads Draw High Responses, Ethics Concerns’

Reaction: Philadelphia Media Holdings Stresses Ads’ Humor Value

Related Topics: New Airline Fees and Viral Marketing Campaigns

Charging Airline Passengers by Weight
Viral Marketing Successes and Flops

Reference: The “Official” Derrie-Air Web Site


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