- Southwest Airlines launched a campaign that will highlight as many as 175 stories inspired by customers' reasons for flying, according to a press release from the company. Each story shared on a dedicated campaign microsite is associated with a seat number on a virtual Boeing 737 MAX 8, which the airline is adding to its fleet.
- “Behind Every Seat is a Story: Behind Every Story is the Reason for Transfarency,” will run on TV, digital, social media, radio, out-of-home (OOH), in airports and other channels through long-form national TV spots and short-form content shared online and via social media using the #175Stories tag.
- To generate buzz around the campaign, which was created by agency GSD&M, the Dallas-based airline hosted a scavenger hunt in 10 cities for people to win a trip.
Southwest’s latest campaign takes storytelling to the next level by filling a virtual plane with 175 customer-inspired stories in 15- to 30-second videos. The campaign serves multiple purposes in reaching consumers with an emotional message while also flaunting a new addition to its fleet and hitting the brand's "Transfarency" campaign message. The wide-ranging content in the campaign uses an emotional appeal to reach travelers, aiming to position the no-frills airline as a customer-focused brand in the minds of consumers. The messaging isn’t explicitly based on Southwest’s values, but instead around how Southwest is helping its customers in some of life's major emotional moments — including boarding a flight to bring an adopted newborn baby home or getting an elderly relative out of a nursing home for a tropical vacation — while depicting the airline as one that prioritizes compassion and understanding in a competitive air travel space.
The effort is part of the brand's larger “Transfarency” campaign, which launched in 2015 with a focus on Southwest’s low-cost approach and refreshed planes. A second phase of the campaign launched in 2016 focused on the appeal for travelers of hearing "yes" instead of "no" from travel providers. The new 2017 campaign builds on those efforts with its emotional appeal.
Marketers have become more aware of the importance of authenticity and using emotion to connect with consumers, rather than contrived scenarios as younger demographics like millennials and Gen Z, who tend to demand greater authenticity and transparency in their marketing, become key target audiences. Millennials’ purchasing power continues to rise as the oldest members of that age cohort are settling into careers, raising families and are reeling in more disposable income for travel.
Southwest is checking off the authenticity box in its latest move by tapping into that emotional appeal with bite-sized, shareable content that's focused on the customer and how the airline sees itself playing a role in major life moments.