Is Southwest’s famous culture in jeopardy?


Over the past few weeks I have seen a lot of advertisements while watching March Madness. One ad in particular stood out to me, Southwest’s new spring campaign ‘Welcome Aboard.’ This ad is very different from the Southwest ads I am accustomed to seeing. It feels like a brand shift to me. The sense of humor is missing and the real employees are replaced with models and a slicker, more corporate look. Let’s take a look at the ad:

In the ad, Southwest claims to be the largest airline in the country. Read the small print at the end of the ad, and you’ll see it is based on Q3 2012, before the consolidation of American Airlines and US Airways. Is this campaign Southwest’s response to the “new” American, which is offering fliers more than 6,700 flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries, becoming the largest airline in the world?  Here’s how American and US Air want us to view the “new” American:

Southwest’s culture is the glue that holds it together. It is a standard to aspire to, and a case study used by educators and lecturers (including me) to learn how to create a sustainable culture based on a strong set of beliefs and consistent behavior by every employee, each of whom lives its values every day.

In the wake of airline consolidation, I hope Southwest doesn’t lose its “Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and FunLUVing” personality, which enabled the airline to profit when others declared bankruptcy.

A brand means nothing if your people don’t live it every day. Is your brand in alignment with your culture? Take the Companies Are People, Too organizational assessment to find out.


Sandy Fekete • April 5, 2013

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BrandAlignment Marketers, Company Culture

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