Southwest enters Philly with push centered on chairman

PHILADELPHIA: Southwest Airlines' marketing machine is running full throttle in Philadelphia, which it will begin serving on Mother's Day.

PHILADELPHIA: Southwest Airlines' marketing machine is running full throttle in Philadelphia, which it will begin serving on Mother's Day.

Philadelphia marks Southwest's first new market entry since September 11, aside from Norfolk, VA. Southwest took a subdued approach to that October 2001 launch.

At the campaign's center is Southwest's gregarious chairman, Herb Kelleher. The company is playing up the hometown roots of Kelleher, a native of nearby Haddon Heights, NJ. Otherwise, the chairman has taken a conspicuously low profile since ceding his president and CEO titles to Colleen Barrett and Jim Parker, respectively, in mid-2001.

Late last month, reporters spent a day following Kelleher on a tour of his high school, a WWII memorial listing his brother's name, and childhood haunts. Kelleher wrapped up the day with a speech before the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and announced that Southwest will double the cities to which it flies from Philadelphia by summer.

Kelleher will appear at more speaking engagements this month, and formal launch ceremonies are slated for May 10.

The company's agency of record, Porter Novelli, has played a key role in Philadelphia PR activities, while one corporate communications staff member is temporarily assigned there, said Southwest PR director Linda Rutherford.

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