Southwest Airlines Reviews Digital Agency Business

Move Follows Change in Lead Creative Shop

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Southwest Airlines is conducting a digital agency review, according to people familiar with the matter.

WPP's Kansas City-based VML is currently working on the airline's digital business. WPP's Wunderman also works on various digital tasks. Southwest and its digital shops didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The review follows the appointment in April of Craig Maccubbin as Southwest's chief technology officer and Randy Sloan in May as the company's chief information officer.

Southwest will focus on improving the consumer booking experience through e-commerce and design, said one executive. That means finding a partner with both back-end and front-end digital strengths.

Another person close to the matter said the airline may favor an agency with a presence near its Dallas headquarters. However, being local had no bearing on the company's most recent agency move last summer, when it looked beyond its 30-year creative partner, Omnicom Group's GSD&;M, to hire sibling agency TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles for a fall ad campaign. Texas-based GSD&;M -- also owned by Omnicom -- remains on Southwest's roster.

At the time, a Southwest spokeswoman told Ad Age: "As our business grows and service footprint grows. ... We are looking to add to the agency resources."

In 2012, Southwest Airlines spent $154.5 million on domestic measured media for its AirTran and Southwest brands, down from $249 million in 2011, according to Kantar. Dallas-based Camelot Communications has supported the airline's media business for a number of years.

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