"We never set out to offend anybody," said Lynne Koreman, Spirit's senior director of marketing and communications. "It was done all in good fun and topical humor."
Borrowing from the recent FBI hunt for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, the famous former Teamsters Union boss, at a farm outside Detroit, the airline invited online customers to "Help us find Hoffa with our Hunt for Hoffa game and enjoy fares from just $39 each way," the Detroit News reports.
The point of the game was to dig for Hoffa's body by clicking grids on a screen. Winners who "found Hoffa" by uncovering his name in the grids in a certain number of tries were thanked by the National Spirit Sale Center for their efforts.
"It's marketing run amok," said Michael Bernacchi, a University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor.
Hoffa disappeared in 1975 at age 52.