Best and Worst TV Commercials by Texas Companies

Best campaign in Texas, Southwest Airlines. The worst is…

This campaign could be the “Where’s the beef?” of this decade.

This week Bob Johansen, a futurist with an eye on media and communication gave a presentation here at McCombs, during which he postulated that this commercial (watch it now) is the worst commercial in history. Anyone who watches these earnest cowboys herding their cats can’t help but fall in love with the storyline and the amazing cinematography. What’s not to like, Bob? After all, it’s had hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube alone, and I’ll bet it won some prestigious advertising industry awards.

Johansen claims this is the worst commercial because it is wildly creative, yet fails to make people remember the sponsor. Can you name the sponsor?

Hint, they are based in Plano, Texas. I’m not telling, if you have to go back and watch it again I guess we’ve proved Johansen right. I don’t know if it is any less memorable than many other TV spots, but TV Tropes lists it as an example of a commercial that is so clever it steals attention from its own sponsor. Apparently, German media experts call this the vampire effect.

Johansen didn’t nominate a best commercial in history, so let me suggest a campaign that is currently running that I categorize as a winner on all counts. I’ll call it the best TV campaign for a Texas company, and one of the best campaigns on the air for any company, the Southwest Airlines Bags Fly Free spots. Watch them here:

Southwest Bags Fly Free

Southwest Ramper Love Story

Southwest We Love Your Bags

I love this campaign so much I made a point to collar Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly at the McCombs Advisory Council session last week to tell him that it is the ideal combination of fun and effectiveness. He smiled broadly and told me the campaign has been very popular. It was produced by ad agency GSD&M Idea City and the spots were shot right here in Austin, although the SW employees are from across the country.

Here is why the bags fly free campaign is so good. They are clever and witty, but the humor is directly tied to an easy to understand point of differentiation. On Southwest Airlines bags fly free, unlike most of their competition. A simple point that makes a difference to many air travelers. No guesswork about the meaning of a cat herding analogy, no complicated visual effects, just a simple message told in a way that makes you smile. And the spots don’t get boring once you know the joke.

This campaign could be the “Where’s the beef?” of this decade. I hope they stay with this theme as long as this remains a key brand differentiator for Southwest.

What is your nomination for the best or worst TV commercials by Texas companies?


4 thoughts on “Best and Worst TV Commercials by Texas Companies”

  1. Ok, I know I’m biased on many, many levels, but I do love our UT commercials. I watch a lot of college football and so suffer through endless generic higher ed ads that show kids playing frisbee on the lawn or working in a lab with beakers. You can’t tell one from the other.

    But UT’s ads, narrated by Mr. Walter Cronkite, are distinct, professional and visually beautiful, and everyone I know who is an alum absolutely loves them.

  2. You are right, they are stunningly beautiful ads, and they also wear well; they don’t get old after multiple viewings. I don’t know if you were aware of this, but those ads were produced by GSD&M as well (just as the Southwest Airlines ads).

    Thanks for your comment.

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