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By Published on .

After aggressively expanding its route system across the country, Southwest Airlines, the No. 1 carrier in U.S. media spening, is looking at shifting more of its $85 million media budget into national branding.

"We have an opportunity in front of us that we didn't have before-we can speak in a national voice," said Joyce Rogge, Southwest VP-advertising and promotions. "While we continue to be local and immediate to our customers, there was some diversion of dollars starting last fall" out of local fare ads into national brand spending.

As a result, Southwest consolidated its advertising last week at its agency of 16 years, GSD&M, Austin, Texas, jettisoning Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, hired in 1991 to help Southwest expand into the Midwest and other markets.


Local fare advertising had been the main thrust of the airline's efforts until late last year, when Southwest entered Florida and New England.

"When Cramer came on, they came in knowing that they were there to help us grow and that was done," said Ms. Rogge.

"As Southwest grows, national branding makes more sense," said MaryEllen Milano, GSD&M VP-account director.

Continuing the GSD&M-created "Symbol of freedom" campaign launched last October, a spot featuring a new country band, BR549, is expected to hit in April. Actor Jack Palance, who launched the national theme, is not expected to appear in any

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