Southwest Airlines Conducts Digital Agency Review

Incumbent VML Will Not Defend Account

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Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines Credit: Matt York

Southwest Airlines is conducting a digital agency review as it expands its business globally.

"As we move further into the international space, we're looking for an agency with both consumer and digital experience in international," said a Southwest spokeswoman.

The scope will include a broad range of digital marketing duties, but it likely won't include media, according to people familiar with the matter.

Consultancy SRI is conducting the search.

VML, the shop's current digital agency of record, will not participate in the review, according to the Southwest spokeswoman. "We've enjoyed partnering with VML for more than seven years, and effective January 1, VML will no longer be part of the Southwest family of agencies, which include TBWA/ChiatDay."

WPP's VML worked on various projects over the years, including digital creative work and the Southwest iPhone app.

"VML has been a long-time partner with Southwest and we are proud of the work we've done together," said a VML spokeswoman. "We chose to respectfully decline participation in this review and wish them the best in their search."

The review follows the airline's move over the last 18 months to expand globally, starting with Latin America and the Caribbean.

Publicis Groupe's Razorfish also has supported digital marketing for the Dallas-based airline for nearly a decade. The shop, which is used primarily by Southwest's technology team, as opposed to its marketing team, will participate in the request for proposals, according to the airline's spokeswoman.

Most recently, Razorfish handled some digital work on the airline's "Transfarency" campaign that emphasized its low rates and transparent costs. Another Southwest creative shop, Omnicom's GSD&M, was behind that push.

Razorfish also fielded the design of the Southwest microsite amidst a massive rebrand the airline conducted late last year. The effort, which emphasized the airline's heart and the hospitality of its employees, included a new campaign, tagline, in-airport signage and airplane aesthetic.

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