Southwest Airlines Brings Back ‘Wanna Get Away’ Campaign, Gone for Almost a Decade

Carrier and agency GSD&M pick up where they left off

Southwest Airlines jets back to the future in new work from GSD&M, revisiting its "Wanna Get Away" campaign, which flew off the radar almost a decade ago.

GSD&M developed the concept for Southwest in 1998, and the tagline propelled a series of ads that ran for the next 10 years. Lest anyone forget, the original spots presented folks seeking to escape from all manner of comically embarrassing situations.

A new commercial, breaking today, follows that familiar flight plan:

Somebody get that guy a lozenge, stat.

Some of the GSD&M creatives who contributed to the campaign in the 2000s helped pilot its revival, so perhaps it's no surprise that the approach hasn't changed much. In fact, that's exactly the way the client wants it. 

"It's an idea with a ton of brand equity," says Lara Bridger, agency group creative director. "Most people will think it never left."

Indeed, Southwest has continued to use the line as the designation for its lowest fares, and #WannaGetAway remains a hashtag associated with the brand.

"The idea is based in a human truth—wanna-get-away moments—so there's really no wrong time for this campaign," Bridger says. "What's really great about bringing back 'Wanna Get Away' now is that we can truly embrace the social element."

To that end, Southwest teamed up with HomeAway for a #WannaGetAwayIsland contest, inviting participants to share their embarrassing moments for a chance to win prizes, including a free vacation to an idyllic isle off the coast of Belize.

Plus, there's a CBS Sports tie-in, with the network highlighting fans' "Wanna Get Away Football Moments" during the NFL season. (Insert your Colin Kaepernick joke here.)

If nothing else, the tagline's return distinguishes the carrier from competitors such as American Airlines, which just launched ads focusing on "the world's greatest flyers."

Southwest, however, clearly doesn't expect greatness from its passengers. Instead, all hapless schlubs fleeing ground-based humiliation are welcome to stumble aboard.


Client: Southwest Airlines

Spot Title: "Secret Identity"

Agency: GSD&M                   

Chief Creative Officer: Jay Russell

Group Creative Directors: Scott Brewer, Ryan Carroll, Lara Bridger, Rafa Serrano  

Art Directors: James Hoke, Gus Solis                        

Writers: Rusty Broome, Laura Canzano

Director of Production: Jack Epsteen                               

Executive Producer: Marianne Newton           

Senior Producer: Alison Wagner

Account Service: Shawn Mackoff, Amy Lyon, Amy Rodgers, Meredith Nagel, Ana Leen

Marketplace Planning:  Jennifer Billiot

Business Affairs Manager: Desiree Townsend

Project Manager: Elizabeth Stelling

Production Company: O Positive

Director: Brian Billow

EP: Ralph Laucella

Producer: Devon Clark

DP: Mauro Fiore                 

Editor: Jay Nelson/Cut+Run

Assistant Editor: Nick Kondylas

EP: Bebe Baldwin

Stylist: Laura Eckert

Music: Hum

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: September 6, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT