Tag: advertising

There’s an unwritten rule in every industry that says “We all go to market the same way.” It’s a dumb rule and I’ve been preaching against it for 35 years. I wish I could say I wrote the book on the subject, but Marty Neumeier beat me to it. More on that in a moment. (more…)

When I discuss Marketing Innovation, one-on-one or with a group of 250, I always tell the story of the drill bit. It goes like this: You walk into Lowe’s to get a half inch drill bit. Six dollars later, you have your drill bit. But you didn’t go to Lowe’s because you wanted to add to your drill bit collection. You went because you wanted a half inch hole. It’s the hole that was worth $6. The bit was just a means to an end. (more…)

It was a couple of years ago that I began to suspect things were changing at Southwest. The esprit de corps was missing. No singing during landing or jokes on take-off. Uniforms replaced shorts and golf shirts. Southwest didn’t feel like Southwest. With the introduction of their latest ad campaign, my suspicions have been confirmed. The bean counters have taken over.

A sure sign that the marketing people have lost control of the ship is when the advertising starts to focus on the company instead of the customer. Sadly, it has happened at Southwest Airlines. The great ads that used to feel my pain when I really needed to “get away” have been replaced with images of employees talking about how much they care. They have “heart”. You can tell, it’s painted on the bottom of the planes.


Southwest became great by demonstrating how much they care, not by talking about it.

When you are really good at something, you don’t have to tell anyone. Everyone who matters knows. Can Peyton Manning throw a football? Can Eric Clapton tear up a guitar? The day Adam Levine puts his face on a poster with the caption “I can sing and I’m a really good songwriter, too” is the day he starts playing casinos in the midwest. Of course it applies to great companies, too.

It’s the bean counters, stupid.

Customer-focused innovation separates great companies from the competition. When the bean counters take over, the focus moves to the company and the bottom line. Short term, short-sighted thinking. The real Bottom line. This new campaign does not pass the “So what?” test. “Our people have a lot of heart. We love to fly. We really care about flying around the country.”

So what?

Here’s some insight: We, the customers, fly because we have to. Not because we want to or because it is fun. We like(d) Southwest because you made it fun, or at least tolerable. If you’re going to make it boring, we might as well take the bus.