Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bullwinkling the Media

Frontier Airlines, a good airline suffering through some bad times, has an excellent PR office.

And to the extent that a Frontier PR person might be responsible for the worldwide news today that Frontier has increased the charge for checking antlers to $100 from $75, well, I step back and say bravo or brava.

The antlers knee-slapper ingeniously hid the actual news that Frontier has decided to become one of the few low-cost carriers to impose a $25 charge on a second checked bag, just like the network carriers have (one-upped by American Airlines, which is going to charge another $25 for the FIRST checked bag.)

Frontier's press releases on the subject yesterday conveyed no overt antler-hype -- except for the fact that the item "Antlers -- changing from $75 to $100" was No. 6 on a list of new revenue items, the most important of which, of course, was the charge for a second checked bag.

Sometimes you can just stick an item like that in there and depend on some news-challenged editor somewhere (Reuters appears to be the primary suspect here) to pick it out and run with it on a slow news day at the start of a holiday weekend.) Or a smart PR person can simply quietly call some poor drone on a news desk somewhere and suggest that hilarity might ensue by focusing on antlers.

Whatever, it worked, and I stand in awe of the accomplishment, if not in surprise. This was one of those weirdly viral offbeat news items that I classify as DERSAF ("Despite Endless Repetition, Still Ain't Funny.")

"Frontier Airlines" and "Antlers" clocks in at 44,700 mentions right now on Google.

But the news for those of us who actually care about the hassles of flying, or the state of the airlines, remains: Frontier to start charging $25 for second checked bag. In the press release, the news was buried in the lede.


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