24 Jun

A Teddy Bear and a Boy. Southwest Airlines Does It Again.

By Erika Turan, APR

Differentiating a brand in a crowded, heavily regulated industry like the airlines is a challenge indeed. You can be no-frills, like Allegiant or Frontier. You can be one of the heritage brands offering extra perks for a price, like Delta, American or United. Or you can be memorable, personable and customer-centric, like Southwest.

Southwest Airlines has garnered attention for years for its passionate employees who rap announcements, dance while they’re de-icing or even climb into the overhead bin during boarding.

But recently, they took the time to show some love to a little boy who lost his teddy bear on a Southwest flight, and they’re reaping the public relations benefits.

Grayson lost his favorite teddy on a flight to New Orleans, and his mother worked hard to locate it. She contacted the airline, made a social media post that was shared thousands of times and stayed in the hunt.

Her search for the missing teddy garnered Southwest’s attention. Rather than shrug and hope the bear showed up in a lost and found bin, Southwest decided to give Grayson a new teddy. But more than that: the new teddy came with a story all his own.

Southwest created a picture book of the new teddy. Decked out in Southwest earmuffs, the bear was photographed working the tarmac, getting the plane ready for passengers and even inspecting the cockpit. In the last photo, the bear is pictured behind a computer with the caption, “Here I am booking my flight to come live with you. I’m so excited, I can hardly wait!”

The new bear, which Grayson has named “Jack,” made his arrival at Grayson’s home and the two have been inseparable ever since.

It’s a great example of a company living its brand, and getting great, free press as a result. Southwest undoubtedly won Grayson’s family over as customers for life (if they weren’t already) and got even more people to consider their brand when flying.

Considering that Southwest Airlines is one of the only airlines that doesn’t show up in any online flight searches like Google Flights or Expedia (by their choice), it’s just another way the company is working hard to maintain top-of-mind awareness.