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COLLEEN BARRETT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

By Published on .

Like the company she works for, Colleen Barrett is flying high.

Ms. Barrett is the No. 2 executive at Southwest Airlines, and the highest-ranking female in the domestic airline industry.

As exec VP-customers, she helps guide the nation's only consistently profitable carrier-one that has become a model for even the major airlines to imitate.

As the top marketer at Southwest, Ms. Barrett ensures ad messages are consistent and in keeping with company's personality.

"We try to portray the special spirit and culture of our company to the general public in all of our marketing efforts," she says.

Sometimes that means poking fun at competitors and even at Southwest itself. One TV spot shows peanuts representing both fares and the airline's meals.

Ms. Barrett, 49, has the last word on ad executions from the airline's two agencies: GSD&M, Austin, Texas, and Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago. She pulls all functions together-PR, customer relations and traditional marketing-to orchestrate an integrated marketing program for new markets.

Last year, that included the East Coast for the first time, when the airline started service to Baltimore.

For the second year in a row, the No. 7 airline won the industry's triple crown for the best on-time performance, best baggage handling and highest customer satisfaction of any U.S. airline, based on figures from the U.S. Transportation Department.

That recognition naturally is promoted in advertising.

To make sure the Southwest culture prevails in all communications, Ms. Barrett, who has been with the company since it started in 1971, founded the Southwest Culture Committee. Meeting four times a year, the committee ensures that Southwest remains Southwest-a fun, customer-oriented airline.

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