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Southwest Airlines

Role / project
Creative Director / Experiential Campaign
Storytelling - Experiential

Create a concept that would speak directly to denver

● Increase your traditional leadership position…

● Retain and gain loyalty from Core Customers…

● Develop loyalty with new and infrequent Customers…

● Add more gates and more capacity to get to 250 daily departures this year

● Increase your business travel Share of Wallet

● Increase Air Shopping Visits to 30M (+45% from current)

● Grow First Consideration to 48% (+8% from current

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The pressure is on.

As the competition scrambles to reposition in an effort to keep up, now is the moment to get more active in the market than ever before, showing the people of Denver our true Mile High Heart, becoming an even more meaningful part of their lives, and reminding the people of Denver why they love us.

● Denverites are exploring new brands and experiences more now, and you find yourself in a battle just to win back customers whose loyalty was previously never in doubt.

● United is getting aggressive in their fight for the Denver market with a new campaign that feels uncomfortably close to our positioning.

● Frontier is protecting their hometown turf, leaning into a message of sustainability that resonates with many Denver residents.

● On top of that, the pandemic completely disrupted the entire industry, creating financial and operational turmoil.


The Denver customer base.

● 81k Core Customers: #1 in the System

● 228k Chase Cardholders: #3 in the System; above average Cardholder penetration of 7%

● 1.8M RR members: only #10 in the System; below average RR penetration of only 55%

● Younger than the System average

● Denverites tend to care deeply for the local community and take pride in the many things that make the culture of Colorado truly unique

● There’s a clear expectation that the business community feels the same and will get step up to involved in community programs

● Denverites tend to have a strong “BS” meter when it comes to marketing; to resonate, a brand’s actions must be sustained, active (not just logo slapping), and consistent with the company’s core values

● Denverites tend to respond well to both people and brands who take a stand on cultural issues

The Target Audience.

One great thing about what Southwest offers is that everyone in Denver is the audience on some level. But to break through and make a strong emotional connection with the most important segments of the overall Denver customer base, we recommended taking a “CORE to MORE” approach. Retaining the strong loyalty that the CORE customers in Denver have for the brand is the top priority. These “LUVers” must be the primary target audience, and we’ll engage them with tactics that competitors couldn’t or wouldn’t attempt, reminding them why they are loyal fans of Southwest and ensuring that they aren’t distracted by new messaging coming at them from the competition. The secondary target audience we’ll work to directly engage are the people in Denver whom we’ve labeled “Fly-Curious”. These 293k customers are frequent Southwest flyers, but due in part to the unique cultural moment of reevaluation and rethinking discussed earlier, this group is less loyal today and more open to checking out what the competition has to offer. Converting at least 30k of these “Fly-Curious” people into “LUVers” is essential to generate the demand needed to fill the growing capacity being added this year and next at DIA.


Creative Solutions.

Even though our team crafted FOUR different concepts to be presented, I am only going to dive into my favorite of the group for efficiency sake. If you are curious about the other concepts, and would like to learn more about the research that went into each one, please let me know! 


Southwest Airlines celebrates all the ways Denver has heart with a 360º citywide art initiative.

A Unique K-12 Student Art Initiative


Social, paid media and school outreach will issue a CTA for all students K-12 to enter their interpretation of how “Denver has heart” using the SWA heart icon. They can use any materials, but must include the heart icon in some way.


The Denver public can vote on the student entries on a website, and participants can promote their entry on social, using the hashtag #DENhas❤. In-airport OOH placements will spotlight the initiative and encourage voting as well, including a text-to-vote and QR opportunity.

The winning student entry will become a plane wrap including a reveal event for the student and other members of her school.

Denver Artists x Student Artists

As a plus up to this idea we could also partner with local Denver artists who will team up with students to create public art installations based on the theme “Denver has heart”

Across the city, these artists’ interpretations of our theme will appear - each one incorporating the SWA heart icon in some way, and accompanied by SWA branding nearby, along with artist credit.

Across social channels, SWA, artists and influencer partners will post content about the art, and even promote a scavenger hunt for Denver residents to post pictures of themselves with each of the art installations in order to win SWA tix or other prizes, using #DENhas❤


This could roll out in different key cities nationwide, each resulting in a hero student art-wrapped plane and an artist airport installation, for a fleet of airplanes and airport visuals that represent how different key SWA hub cities have “heart”. SWA could also release a fleet of collectible model SWA airplanes wrapped in the winning student art entries from each city.


The personal participation of local kids and the OOH presence throughout the city and the airport will highlight the initiative and can even include interactive voting and content opportunities.


A microsite (or social channel) will act as a hub where everyone can see the student finalists artwork and vote on it. The CTA for the initiative as well as content created by the artists and students could live in pre-roll and other paid media.


Social engagement will center around the student submissions and voting, as well as the artist placements throughout the city, and can be amplified by local influencers and SWA across social channels.


The student initiative is made for TV, as local kids get in on celebrating that Denver Has Heart. The artist’s installations throughout the city will make a newsworthy splash as a city-wide celebration of Denver.


● Student Participation

● Social engagement

● Earned Media coverage

● Votes

● Social sharing

● RR member growth

● Smiles generated