Phila. newspapers run ads about fake airline Derrie-Air
By DEBORAH YAO
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Derrie-Air has been exposed. Readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News opened their papers Friday to see ads for a new airline called Derrie-Air, which purportedly charges passengers by the pound.
But the new carrier will never get off the ground. It's a one-day advertising campaign about a fake airline by Philadelphia Media Holdings, the papers' owner, and Quaker City Mercantile (formerly known as Gyro Worldwide) ad agency.
In light blue banners throughout the papers - as well as on their Web site, Philly.com - Derrie-Air cheerily trumpets its policy: The more you weigh, the more you pay. The ads direct readers to the Web site http://www.flyderrie-air.com .
Derrie-Air claims to be the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline. From its website:
Welcome to Derrie-Air, the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline, where you don't have to choose between living the high life and saving the planet. Nine out of ten scientists agree-we need to reduce our carbon emissions or perish from the face of the earth. Air travel is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions and global warming. Derrie-Air will be the only airline that plants trees to offset every pound of carbon that our planes release into the atmosphere.
But not 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. After all, it takes more fuel-more energy-to get more weight from point A to point B. So we will charge passengers based on how much mass they add to the plane. The heavier you and your luggage are, the more trees we'll plant to make up for the trouble of flying you from place to place.
Readers Become Derrie-Air Of Fake Ad
Airline Doesn't Exist, Except As Ad Campaign
Earlier this week, it was reported that some airlines were considering charging passengers based on their weight.
Then, an advertisement in Friday's Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News suggested flying from Philadelphia to Denver for $1.90 per pound -- roundtrip fare based on total weight of passenger and passenger luggage.
Its Web site calls Derrie-Air the world's first carbon-neutral airline. The Web site claims the airline will plant trees to absorb the carbon released by its planes.
The site also gives price quotes based on weight from Philadelphia to a variety of destinations, including $1.40 for every pound to Chicago, and $2.25-a-pound to Los Angeles.
Could this be real? It was in the papers. In fact, there were a lot of ads in the papers.
But if you scroll all the way down, the site says, "Smile. We're pulling your leg."
The entire thing is a fictitious campaign by Philadelphia Media Holdings, the company that owns the Inquirer and Daily News.
The Web site says the campaign was designed to test the results of their advertising and to stimulate discussion on this environmental topic.
Brian Tierney occupies the power suite that goes with being the publisher of a major legacy newspaper. Tall windows on three sides. Conference table for those who are summoned. Good view of downtown Philadelphia real estate. From this 12th-floor aerie, Walter Annenberg, an old-style press lord who chummed with royals and the Reagans, watched over his two cash cows, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the wildly profitable TV Guide.
Ambassador Annenberg, as he liked to be called after Nixon appointed him to the Court of St. James's, was in the newspaper business back when business was good. Tierney, a voluble, self-made millionaire from the Philly suburbs, is an ambassador of a different sort. He is the on-site manager representing the group of prominent Philadelphia investors who put up $515 million to buy the struggling Inquirer and the smaller Philadelphia Daily News when they fell from the grip of the collapsing Knight-Ridder chain in 2006.
In just the last few weeks, The San Diego Union-Tribune eliminated more than 100 jobs, one-tenth of its work force. The Chicago Sun-Times began a major round of newsroom layoffs, then put itself up for sale, and publishers in Minneapolis and Philadelphia warned that tough economics could force cuts there.
A newsstand in New York. Some major newpapers have several times as many readers online as in print, but grim financial reports have forced the papers to downsize.
Not long ago, news like that would have drawn much commentary and hand-wringing in the newspaper business, but in the last few months, reductions have become so routine that they barely make a ripple outside each paper's hometown. Since mid-2007, major downsizing - often coupled with grim financial reports - has been imposed at The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The San Jose Mercury News, USA Today and many others.
"Readers and Pigs are Flying in Philly"
After receiving some criticism last year due to a dwindling community of readers, The Philadelphia Inquirer is celebrating is largest circulation growth in five years, placing them at number one amongst the top fifty U.S. newspapers for circulation growth. Teaming up with Quaker City Mercantile, the paper has released a multi-faceted campaign in honor of this accomplishment. The concept stems from a comment issued to Philadelphia Media Holdings' CEO, Brian Tierney, stating that the newspapers readers would increase, "when pigs fly." this four page insert ran in the Inquirer on the 9th and 11th and is accompanied by radio and cinema spots.