Early today Southwest Airlines announced its intention to acquire low-fare competitor AirTran Airways. That news, understandably, wasn't a cause for great rejoicing around the offices of Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago, which has had the AirTran ad account for 12 years.
Though the acquisition deal is far from done and probably won't be finalized until sometime next year, it's unlikely Southwest will allow AirTran -- and all the benefits it will bring to the acquiring carrier -- to slip from its grasp, as did Frontier Airlines when Southwest tried to acquire it recently.
Southwest mostly likely will continue to rely on its longtime principal ad agency GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Tex. for its advertising needs, which are considerable. Southwest has been especially aggressive when it comes to advertising both its low fares and its "bags fly free" policy.
Should C-K lose its AirTran business, an agency spokesman said the agency's airline experience should enable it to aggressively compete for another airline account -- if a carrier should be looking for a new agency.
A bittersweet historical side note: Cramer-Krasselt once worked with Southwest. The C-K spokeswoman said the agency for eight years handled advertising in markets where Southwest was introducing new service.