Ever since the story of Kyla Ebbert came out; something smelled rotten in Danmark. As you know, Kyla was removed from an SWA flight because her outfit was too skimpy and revealing. The outfit, actually, was really nothing more than you’d see any girl wearing in a mall. What was the big deal?
What made this more strange, is that on Southwest’s own site, they have all the commercials they have run over the years – some featuring stewardesses in skimpier outfits than Kyla was wearing. See commercial above.
She immediately was all over the news – appearing on the Today Show, Fox News, Dr Phil’s show, etc. How did this minor incident become so widespread so quickly? After the furor seemed to die down, the same thing happened to another woman. This second incident helped push the news cycle on this a little bit further and keep it going for another few days.
Then, yesterday, Southwest Airlines backs off and offers her two free round-trip tickets and also offers everyone sales fares for 10 days. The tone of their press release to announce the sale didn’t come across as a company looking to avoid a lawsuit either, more like someone springing the joke on everyone:
“Some have said we’ve gone from loving hot pants to having hot flashes but nothing could be farther from the truth, “said Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly. “The publicity caught us with our pants down, quite frankly. The story has such great legs, but we have an even better sense of humor, so we’re going to jump out there and lower our fares to match the mini skirts we’ve all been hearing so much about.”
Coincidentally (or not), this all occurs at one of the slowest times of the year for air travel.
The week after Labor Day, in particular, is another back-to-work week, when people tend to travel less. In fact, the fall can be a slow time for many parts of the travel industry, because leisure travelers stay home and either work or go to school.
I’m not convinced this is so much a coincidence as it is a prolonged series of free advertising for Southwest Airlines. Given the advertising industry’s desire to come up with new and creative ways to keep their brand in the public’s eye, it is certainly conceivable this was plotted from the beginning. How else can you get free commercials on every major network for two weeks and get people talking about your airline? Then followup with discounted travel for a short period of time immediately afterwards? Using women to sell products by turning them into objects is a well known tactic and done to sell everything from cars to hamburgers, so finding some willing young woman to pull this off would be easy – she came across as vacant enough to play the part too.
Looked at it that way, it’s hard to argue this hasn’t been a long advertising campaign, isn’t it?