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Beer ad agitates airline
AirTran wants an apology from Anheuser for radio spot "Mr. Discount Airline Pilot Guy" -- report.
October 26, 2005: 1:27 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Anheuser-Busch has gotten itself in trouble with an airline that takes offense at a recent "Real Men of Genius" radio spot that pokes fun at discount-carrier pilots, according to a recent report.

The ad, known as "Mr. Discount Airline Pilot Guy," features an announcer offering a tounge-in-cheek "salute the pilots" over a mock classic rock chorus that repeats the last part of each statement.

It includes such taunts 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 Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story Monday, said AirTran Airways is considering dropping Bud and Bud Light beer from its flights unless Anheuser apologizes.

"You may deem the commercial to be satirical, but I find it highly offensive," AirTran Chairman and Chief Executive Joe Leonard told the Journal.

AirTran (Research) could immediately be reached for comment.

In a response e-mailed to CNN/Money, Anheuser (Research) said 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."

The ad also makes fun of the flying public in general, with such quips as "Sure, we're concerned for our lives, just not as concerned as saving nine bucks on a round-trip to Fort Myers" and "The most direct route to Houston, through Fort Lauderdale. With layovers in Detroit, Vancouver and Kalamazoo."

Discount airlines have flourished recently while traditional carriers have fallen on hard times.

The ad ran only once in January on radio but has remained on an ad industry Web site and is reportedly making the rounds among pilots, the Journal said.

The ad had been featured on Adforum.com, an industry Web site, but was pulled Tuesday. Anheuser said the Web site didn't have permission to post it

The Journal said Monday that the ad remained on Anheuser's phone system and that when an AirTran official called Anheuser to complain, he had to listen to the offending ad while on hold.

Other "Men of Real Genius" spots have featured salutes to "Mr. Giant Pocket Knife Inventor"and "Mr. Gangsta Rapper Posse Member," according to Adforum.com.

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