LOS ANGELES GSD&M Idea City’s latest campaign for Southwest Airlines is exploiting a temporary “point of difference” related to how the carrier is treating customers compared to others, said group creative director Scott MacGregor.
“It’s not our long-term strategy, which involves the idea of freedom itself, but more like a moral stake in the ground,” said MacGregor of new TV, print, radio and online ads that tout Southwest’s fewer hidden charges. “We’re taking advantage of market trends and things we’re not getting credit for.”
Two 30-second spots solidify that difference, said MacGregor, who worked on the ads under ecd Mark Taylor with Tim Delger (art) and J.C. Abbruzzi (copy) at the Austin, Texas, agency. In one, a man asks a Southwest attendant about additional charges for checked bags. When she replies that there are none, travelers waiting to check in sing Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus, resume their normal posture, then sing again when the second bag is free. Voiceover: “At Southwest Airlines, we don’t believe in charging for things that should be free.” A title card shows a fixed Southwest fare and “The Others Guys” fare rolling up like a gas pump display as a cash register rings.
In “The Other Side of Low Fares,” a customer at a generic competitor’s window is told that the fee will be $69. When the customer expresses his relief, she turns around to reveal a second face, which demands additional fees: “Gimme your whole wallet! Gimme the whole thing! Give it to me now. Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme!” The modified tagline: “Low fares. No hidden fees.”
An ad in the Sept. 9 Wall Street Journal used a see-through material. It instructs readers to hold the translucent page up to the light, revealing hidden fees. One print ad hides hidden fees in a full-page word search game. Print and three additional TV spots run through the football season.
MacGregor said that last year the communication was split between the “Want to get away?” campaign and “Must be football” work.
Dallas-based Southwest spent $185 million on ads last year and $100 million through June 2008, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.