Southwest On the Attack in Feisty New Ad Campaign

June 06, 2008 07:01 AM
by Cara McDonough
Southwest Airlines’ new print advertisements aggressively criticize other carriers for charging petty fees and are drawing both attention and praise—for now.

30-Second Summary

The ad campaign is an effort to point out that, while other airlines are raising and initiating fees on a variety of items, such as checking bags and booking trips over the phone, Southwest is not going to do the same.

“It’s not what customers want,” said Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly after the company’s annual meeting May 21. “Nobody wants to be nickeled and dimed.”

The campaign will be in full swing next week, but Southwest has already a print ad in the Wall Street Journal that shows the company is not holding back in getting the message across.

A mock coupon reads “DON’T #$*!% ME OVER.” Below are printed the words “Southwest is the only airline that accepts this coupon.”

The ad’s implications are clear: Southwest will not join its competitors in charging fees for checked baggage, snacks or anything else (although the carrier does charge $25 for a third checked bag.) The company has also updated its Web site to include a page titled “Fees Don’t Fly With Us.”

Some travel bloggers are impressed with the new ads, but time will tell if Southwest’s attempts to advertise with attitude will attract or turn off the general public.

If the ads do well, they could provide a major boost for the carrier, which suffered from bad press in March after the FAA announced it would charge Southwest record fines of $10.2 million for allegedly operating thousands of flights without conducting routine inspections.

Headline Link: Southwest says no to fees, amps up advertising efforts

Reactions: Positive reaction to Southwest’s ads, and trading ads for service

Related Topic: Airlines going head to head


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