Southwest Airlines Promo, Case study NEW FORM OF FREE MEDIA by Wunderman Irvine

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Industry Airlines
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Wunderman Irvine
Executive Creative Director Anthony Dibiase
Creative Director Susie Lim, Craig Evans
Released February 2009

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Other Digital Media, including Mobile Devices
Date of First Appearance: Mar 1 2009 12:00AM
Entrant Company: WUNDERMAN, Irvine, USA
Executive Creative Director: Anthony DiBiase (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Creative Director: Craig Evans (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Creative Director: Susie Lim (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Associate Creative Director/Copywriter: Ben Peters (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Senior Art Director: Angela Tu (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Senior Art Director: Pieck Panikabutr (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Interactive Designer: Drew Lewis (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Group Account Director: Eric Uchida (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Account Director: Brent Barbour (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Account Executive: Heather McCullough (Y&R/Wunderman Irvine)
Media placement: tbd - Boarding Gate Monitors - 01/03/2009

Results and Effectiveness
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards views budgets and numeric results pertaining to marketing efforts as privileged information so we are unable to report specific conversion/revenue figures. However, analytic estimates project the ROI on the first year of this programme to be +295%. In fact, this campaign has had such a statistically significant impact on all relevant figures associated with the acquisition process (visitors, new members, revenue, etc.) that the client has approved the extension of the SMS call-to-action to all in-airport advertising (jet bridge poster, in-flight magazine, etc.) and modified it to fit alternate OOH environments (sporting events, festivals, etc.).

Creative Execution
A two-fold solution: First, we developed a new form of free media based on an observation: everyone looks at the gate boarding monitors – no matter how busy they are. So why not put our acquisition message on them? Since the monitors already existed, we incurred no media costs and ensured nearly 100% impression by this captive audience. In the future, we plan to use these for branding messages and expect to see it adopted by other airlines. Second, we used new technology to overcome a difficult sign-up process. The traditional Rapid Rewards online sign-up process is lengthy and is not WAP enabled. So we created a new SMS text sign-up process in which the user can sign up on their mobile device.

Insights, Strategy & the Idea
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is the loyalty rewards programme for Southwest Airlines. Our challenge was to sign up new members in a place they’re already thinking about us – inside the airport. However, the heightened security measures in this environment created challenges due to the limited marketing opportunities available. Southwest is the #1 airline by total passengers flown, so virtually anyone who travels was a prospect. However, we narrowed the universe by focusing on a process that requires a mobile device. Our challenge was that Rapid Rewards’ online sign-up process was particularly cumbersome to an on-the-go prospect due to the multi-page form experience that is not WAP enabled. This created low visitation and even lower completion rates from travellers that drive one of the larger revenue shares for the airline. Our goal for this acquisition programme was to transform a time period traditionally characterised as waste into one of relevant productivity.