Southwest Airlines, Santa Claus, and Windows Live

by francine Hardaway on December 2, 2010

After weeks of reading about bad airport experiences, I finally get to write about a good one.

Texas-based Southwest Airlines is known for its singular corporate culture. Unlike any other airline, Southwest seems to think it can be successful in business and still have fun. It might be nice if more businesses learned this. Nothing the airline does violates its brand – which was established many years ago by straight-talking, bourbon-drinking, chain  smoking Herb Kelleher, its first CEO.

Kelleher is out of sight now, but obviously not out of mind, as I found out this morning at the airport after my customary enhanced patdown.

In Terminal 4 of Sky Harbor Airport, just beyond the groping and poking stations, there’s an eye-catching holiday promotion  courtesy of Southwest and, of all non-fun-loving companies, Microsoft. For Microsoft, it’s a laptop promotion; for Southwest, it’s  probably a way to reinforce the brand story.

Passengers with a minute to spare and a willingness to fill out a short survey about the  computer they use and what they know about Windows 7 have a chance to be photographed with Santa (I sat on his lap, which I never had a chance to do as a child) and get “control” of that photo for Christmas use. It was during the week, and there were no kids on the line.

I try anything once. When it was my turn, the photographer took three shots of me, uploaded them to the network, and gave me a choice which of the three facial expressions did I want superimposed on my body in the final photo?  I could also choose which Santa face I wanted.

The software to do this is part of Windows Live (I had no idea), and is called Photo Fuse. I suppose it’s a Photoshop competitor for idiots. I don’t spend much time switching faces out on my photos, so I have no idea what else Photo Fuse competes with, but I know it looked very cool to me. It looked like something I would really use.

I was given a print of the finished photo, but it was also emailed to me, so I could “experience” photo-email via Windows7. The people who demoed the software looked pretty happy with what they were doing. The experience, a way of killing time waiting for my flight, was fun.

Perhaps I’m too easy, but I was convinced to take a closer look at Windows 7; we Apple fan-boys need to have our eyes opened every once in a while. I just bought an Air for probably twice what it would have cost me to buy a Windows 7 laptop with greater power and capability. I never even made the comparison. I suppose that’s what Microsoft is up against as Apple surges ahead in the brand wars.

As for Southwest, its network for the promotion is called Elf4. Consistent with its brand. That’s an airline I will continue to fly.

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

StevenGroves December 3, 2010 at 3:12 am

I had an equally awesome airport experience today, but for an entirely different reason – it was that the Denver client had me fly up with them on their private jet… very awesome not to feel like I had to be stripped searched to fly this time!

hardaway December 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I have a friend who has one as well, and it is amazing that there is NOrnscreening.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: