Dear Copy Bitch: What do you think of Southwest Airlines’ new tagline and advertising campaign?
—Marketing Student, Boston
Answer: Changing your well-known and effective tagline can be a risky maneuver. But, oh, when it works…
I’ve always loved Southwest Airlines’ tagline, “You’re Now Free to Move About the Country.” It was clever (the little cockpit “ding” that precedes the tag, which is spoken in the tone of a pilot, really made it pop), memorable (I never had trouble identifying who the advertiser was whenever I heard the tag), and, no doubt, effective.
But this past June, Southwest Airlines changed its tag to “Grab Your Bag. It’s On.” Here’s why I think it’s effective (I’d love to hear what you think):
- First off, Southwest takes advantage of exploiting a trend among other airlines: the charging of bags, sometimes at $20 a pop. Just goes to show that choosing to do the opposite of what your competitors are doing can set you apart–in a good way.
- The tagline has a double meaning, so it’s working doubly hard. Not only does the tag remind you that Southwest won’t charge you for your bags, it also makes the (albeit subtle) claim that your bags will reach their correct destination (whether it can back up this claim is another story…but just making the claim alone is memorable). The folks at Southwest discuss their new ad campaign in a blog post from June (they say that the phrase “It’s On” is all about attitude. I can dig that, too. Think of the popular “Just do it.” Pithy phrases work really well and easily become part of the present-day lexicon.)
- But what really makes Southwest’s advertising so effective is that it’s thinking of–I mean, really considering–its audience first. One of the biggest pet peeves travelers have faced in the last two years (after long lines, of course) is the fact they’re being charged for their baggage. Southwest responded to its audience’s pain by opting not to charge…and by highlighting its audience-centric ways first and foremost in its advertising.
What do you think?