New TBWA Southwest Airlines campaign is mired in philosophy – we just want to know what it’s selling?

Is it the case that the more the purveyors of products and services cover soak us with implausible and insincere compliments, the busier they actually are ignoring our needs and lifting our wallets?

Every time you hear a statement from a big company PR department intoning that all its customers are important, the more likely it is that some evil scam has actually been perpetrated – likely in the banking or energy industries.

Ad agencies, alas, are often the compliant handmaidens of such phoneyness, especially with campaigns for phones or computers. Microsoft launches Windows 8 or anyone launches a new phone and what we get are hordes of revoltingly healthy and happy young people leaping about like morons as they sample this new addition to their individuality.

They make the denizens of old Coke ads look like crack addicts.

Now I’m sure Southwest Airlines in the US is an excellent company; it has succeeded in becoming the biggest US domestic carrier (the only rational statement in the ad below), no mean achievement in such a competitive arena. As far as I know it hasn’t gone bust recently either, also an achievement in the US.

But this new campaign from new agency TBWA\Chiat Day is the pits:

What have bloody ballet dancers got to do with sitting on a plane, probably next to someone who’s consumed too many Whoppers in their eating career? Funny how airline ads never actually show a plane full of passengers. The late-lamented Jay Chiat will be turning in his grave.

And here’s another one, this time for CoronaExtra from Canada.

Now I have to acknowledge that this is done with rather more elan; it’s reasonable to cut client and agency (Toronto’s Zulu Alpha Kilo) a bit more slack as it’s for booze and you’re not allowed to show people getting happily shit-faced (in Canada it’s even difficult to buy the stuff).

But can’t we cut the philosophising too?

Update 25/3/2012

The Southwest ad was removed yesterday by ‘the user.’ Censorship from YouTube because it’s taken a pasting? Let me know if if mysteriously disappears again.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.