Fly the Branded Skies


Agency: GSD&M

These are posts from Fly the Branded Skies about GSD&M.

By a remarkable coincidence, two U.S. airlines launched new brand identities this week. Southwest revealed its new look at a lavish ceremony on Monday. Frontier unveiled its new look at a somewhat less fancy event earlier today. And the week is young — who knows what excitement is yet to come!

In their own ways, both Southwest and Frontier are returning to their roots. That makes sense for one airline; it’s a perplexing choice for the other. The difference says a lot about what it means to be a “low-cost carrier” today.

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Flyby Wire:  July 21st, 2013

The Work This Week: July 21st, 2013

Welcome to the tenth issue of The Work This Week, a weekly roundup of new advertising, identity, and brand experience work from around the airline industry. This week, Garuda promotes its sponsorship of Liverpool FC, Heineken lets passengers play Destination Roulette, and Spirit Airlines flies into review.
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Jingle: Southwest Airlines “Just Say When” (1985)

Fly Southwest - Just Say When

Listen: Southwest Airlines: “Just Say When”

One of the most appealing attributes of Southwest’s brand is its self-awareness. At a time when other airlines were depicting air travel as a luxurious experience, Southwest made promises it could deliver. It just so happened that what Southwest could deliver was what a lot of passengers really wanted anyway: frequent, convenient flights. This post is about the time when Southwest grew up.

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The list of finalists in the Southwest Airlines review is down to four, according to Adweek: Arnold, Boston; TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles; Leo Burnett in Chicago; and Deutsch in Los Angeles. A selection could come as soon as next week. No matter what happens, GSD&M will continue to hold a piece of the account—but it is telling that they are not finalists in this pitch, even though they were invited to participate.


I love it when advertisers take the gloves off: Southwest and Delta are “duking it out” in Atlanta. This ought to be interesting…

Jingle: “You’re Gonna Luv that Southwest Spirit” (1982)

You're gonna love our Southwest Spirit

Listen: Southwest Airlines: “You're Gonna Luv That Southwest Spirit”

GSD&M has been Southwest Airlines’ advertising agency for more than thirty years. The exclusivity of that relationship is currently in question, with at least eight agencies now vying for a major assignment from the carrier. As Southwest reviews its account, it seems like a good time to review some of the earliest work.

This jingle comes from GSD&M’s first major campaign for Southwest in 1982.

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The pitch for the Southwest Airlines fall campaign may have wide-ranging implications for its relationship with GSD&M, according to a story published in Adweek. According to the RFP, Southwest is looking for “thought leadership in refining its brand positioning and to develop an associated campaign for a national fall 2012 campaign.” Although GSD&M won’t lose the Southwest business, it does seem as though whichever agency wins the review will be taking the strategic lead.


As expected, there were no national airline commercials in the Super Bowl this year, but there were some local buys. Based on Twitter traffic, it seems Southwest ran an ad in Atlanta touting its new service to Hartsfield. And jetBlue showed this ad in the Boston market:

Jingle: Southwest “Lone Star Anthem” (1990)

Southwest Airlines

Listen: Southwest Airlines: “Lone Star Anthem”

I lived in Texas for two years. It’s a cliché now, but it really is a whole other country. And even now, with a route network that spans the U.S., Southwest Airlines is still that whole other country’s flag carrier.

Southwest started flying in 1971, serving only cities in Texas to avoid federal regulation and the Civil Aeronautics Board. For its 20th anniversary, the airline decided to show its appreciation to its home state by painting one of its 737s with a Texas flag and naming it “Lone Star One.”

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The day the industry changed

Most people will tell you that the airline industry changed 32 years ago today—the day Jimmy Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act.

In fact, there are some people who will tell you that October 24, 1978 was the day everything that ever has changed or ever will change in the airline industry, changed.

Not me. For my money, the day the industry changed was 20 years ago, when Young & Rubicam resigned Trans World Airlines.   Read more