Southwest Airlines Means Business

LOS ANGELES Known as a leisure-travel carrier, Southwest Airlines targets business travelers with its latest television advertising, according to Omnicom Group’s GSD&M, which breaks a series of spots this week.

In “Get There,” two businessmen trapped in a traffic jam offer the cab driver money to get them to the airport on time. After a careening around various urban perils, one asks the other, “Is this worth it?” His partner replies, “It’s still cheaper than a change fee if we miss our flight.”

In “Spin & Win,” a passenger approaches the airline counter to ask about his flight. Two ticket agents launch into a game show, replete with spinning wheel and various size planes as icons on the board. As the despondent passenger heads to his small plane, a cheesy version of The Price Is Right plays. “On Southwest, you’ll never fly on a small plane,” the narrator says. “We guarantee that every seat on every flight is on a big, comfortable Boeing 737.”

“Other airlines are going to ever smaller planes,” said Steve Miller, svp, gcd at the Austin, Texas-based agency. “You have no idea what kind of plane you’re getting. So we played that out with absurdity, the Wheel of Fortune game show moment.”

In “Wake Up Call,” a man’s clock radio is seen flipping to 7:01, then time passes until the phone rings at 8:32. A super reads, “7 a.m. wake-up calls rarely come at 7 a.m.”

While diversifying the targeted customer, it was important for the creative team to retain the brand’s characteristic humor, said Brent Ladd, svp, gcd. “[Southwest’s] personality helps them stand out in the marketplace,” he said. “No one has their friendly customer service and kind of Texas hospitality.”

Rocky Morton of MJZ in Los Angeles directed all three spots.

In a commercial directed by one of GSD&M’s founding partners, Tim McClure, at the request of Southwest (which, McClure said, prefers him to shoot “sentimental” spots), a girl sings “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” to a slow-motion montage of Americana. The spot runs through the Fourth of July and uses a variation of its tagline for Independence Day.

Two new leisure-travel spots tout Southwest’s $59 fares. One uses the agency’s “Want to get away?” theme, showing a man trying to impress a stranger with his dance moves, then destroying the D.J. booth. Another shows the feet and missed putts of a man practicing in his office, then cuts to his enjoyment of a real golf course.