If it sounds too good to
be true, it usually is. So while green-conscious consumers might like the idea of a "carbon-neutral" luxury airline that plants a tree for every pound of carbon released, they shouldn't really expect
to park their ever-expanding rears in the airline's seats. That's because "Derrie-Air" - an airline that charges passengers per pound - is a fake. Philadelphia Media Holdings, the newspaper holding
company for The Philadelphia Inquirer
and Philadelphia Daily News
, ran print and online ads for the fake airline in both venues. The goal? "To test the results of advertising in our
print and online products," the company said on the fake Web site for the airline.
While some journalism experts say the papers crossed ethical lines by running fake ads, advertising
experts simply say the campaign was bad advertising. When you make up a brand, there is no benchmark against which to measure the success of a campaign, says Alan Burgis, CEO of advertising agency
Euro RSCG in San Francisco, a division of Havas. Besides, any click-throughs the fake ad generated likely came because of the catchy name of the airline and curiosity that may have been stirred. "It's
a flawed research technique," Burgis says. "There are ways to test [convergence between online and print] with small buys where you test one piece of creative against another."
Derrie-Air is going the way of most real airlines these days. Under.