Imagine flying from New York to Las Vegas surrounded by beautiful models from the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Swimsuit Issue. Now imagine doing it…on Southwest Airlines. “Welcome aboard the swimsuit model plane, sir. Now, please line up along the wall with the other group C people. Enjoy sitting in 29B.”
SI realizes that their magazine is probably going down in flames, so they have to come up with some new ideas. So they’re engaging in something called “experiential marketing.” The idea here is that they work with sponsors to give fans the opportunity to interact with the models in a variety of activities, like test driving cars and hanging out at the Luxor in Vegas.
It’s what Southwest is doing that might raise the most eyebrows, though.
ADVERTISING AGE says the airline is taking the swimsuit issue to a new level…by wrapping one of its planes in giant photos of the scantily clad hotties:
As part of its partnership with SI, Southwest will fly 19 swimsuit models and VIP guests, including select corporate sponsors, clients and SI leaders, out to Las Vegas on Feb. 12. The airline will do so in one of its Boeing 737s, wrapped from nose to tail with large images of a swimsuit model — an attention-grabbing stunt that will continue for 60 days after its maiden voyage, with flights around the U.S.
Now, Roger Sterling would certainly approve of this, but is Southwest perhaps risking alienating a few folks by draping their planes (which, it should be noted, are a bit phallic) in blatant sexual pandering? The swimsuit issue isn’t particularly salacious on the relative scale, but there are a lot of people (mostly women) who have at the very least a vague discomfort with the issue and what it stands for.
Also, an airline that has no first class seating and herds its customers like cattle doesn’t exactly scream luxury. I guess Greyhound wasn’t willing to step up to the plate with a supermodel bus tour through America’s worst neighborhoods. Although MTA buses in Manhattan will also be wrapped with model photos as part of the promotion.
Other elements to “Swimsuit 24/7″ include driving the new Nissan 370Z with models as your passenger, and an invite-only party at the Vegas club LAX, featuring as yet unnamed “A-list talent” (and no, Khloe Kardashian and Carrot Top don’t count).