In this momentous year of reflection and celebration for anyone who holds LUV for Southwest, advertisers had their say, too, recently inducting our Chairman Emeritus into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Fame. Forty years after Southwest's first ads beckoned our first Customers, Herb Kelleher entered the Hall of Fame with seven other legendary advertisers, including Bill Cosby, at a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. No surprise, Herb took a bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey to the podium as he accepted the honor with a humility and humor-filled speech that brought down the house:
"Aside from being the spitting image of Jon Hamm, the star of (television's hit show set in a New York advertising firm in the 1960s) Mad Men, I have wondered why I'm up here? A question, by the way, that all of the other honorees this evening have asked me. I suspect it might be because Southwest has long been a passionate devotee of the power of advertising—we would be long dead without it…"
"We've been a pioneer in breaking through clutter with fun ads, utilizing our own, wonderful Employees being themselves. We've also made sure that our ads never over-promise and that they positively reinforce our somewhat irreverent Culture. Our truly superb and exceptionally able Employees see and hear them, too."
A short video produced by the creative genius at GSD&M, Southwest's agency for more than thirty years, showcased some of the most memorable "Herb ads" in the Southwest vault. Roy Spence (the "S" in GSD&M) nominated and introduced Herb as a business visionary, a tenacious competitor and a commanding general in the fight to democratize the skies.
"Our advertising is successful because it's true, it's reflective of our Company's pillars of having fun while taking our Customer Service very seriously, and because those things have been consistently true through decades of Southwest history," Herb said in an interview just before the ceremony. "Advertising put Southwest on the map."
Gary and other Officers and Employees who worked alongside Herb to build Southwest’s strong Brand through the years were on hand for the big night. Congratulations, again, Herb!