AUSTIN, Texas—In recognition of its innovative, creative and ethical business practices, Southwest Airlines has received the first George Kozmetsky Award for Branding Excellence in the 21st Century, which was established by the Institute for Innovation Creativity and Capital (IC2) and the Center for Brand Research at The University of Texas at Austin.
Michael Dell will present the award to Southwest Airlines in a ceremony today, during the “Branding and Rebranding in the 21st Century” conference taking place on The University of Texas at Austin campus. Joyce Rogge, senior vice president of marketing for Southwest Airlines, and Bill Cunningham, former University of Texas chancellor and a member of the airline’s board of directors, will accept the award on behalf of the company.
“In an era where corporate credibility is increasingly questioned, Southwest Airlines’ brand and its ability to carry that brand through to all levels of the organization, as well as to their customers, is exactly what makes the brand a reality,” said Neal M. Burns, director of the Center for Brand Research and an advertising professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
Named for prominent Austin technology and philanthropy leader George Kozmetsky, the award represents the impact he had on business and society. A distinguished panel of judges representing academia and business selected Southwest Airlines based on the following criteria:
- Innovative and creative business and branding practices that deliver profit for its shareholders and substantial benefits for humankind;
- Its vision of the future and the confidence and competence to ensure its brand’s success at that time;
- A history of ethical behavior, respect and integrity in the treatment of its employees, partners and customers; and
- Acknowledgment, accommodation and respect for differences in cultures and beliefs.
“The depth and breadth of the Southwest Airlines brand and their regard for all their stakeholders was striking, even in the presence of stiff competition,” said Dr. Meme Drumright, University of Texas at Austin advertising faculty member and member of the panel of judges. “With the assistance of fellow faculty members and prominent members of the advertising industry, we conducted a thorough analysis of all finalists. What made Southwest Airlines stand above the crowd was the consistency of its brand from customer to baggage handler to the executive office and the ethical underpinnings of the entire organization.”
In addition to Southwest Airlines, the other four finalists were: The Clorox Company, Dell Computer Corporation, Merck and The Walt Disney Company.
This fall, the Center for Brand Research will present two $1,000 George Kozmetsky Cash Awards for Innovative and Creative Branding to graduate students selected by the Department of Advertising’s scholarship committee. The scholarship winners will assist in research on leading-edge brand issues and will report their findings to this year’s corporate Kozmetsky Award recipient, Southwest Airlines.
Editor’s Notes: The award ceremony, which takes place from 4:45-5 p.m., Thursday, May 8 at the LBJ Library: 8th Floor Atrium/Brown Room, 2313 Red River St., is open to the media. To interview someone from the Center for Brand Research or a member of the selection committee, or to request photos of the awards presentation for media use, please contact Erin Geisler at 512-475-8071.
For more information contact: Erin Geisler, College of Communication, 512-475-8071.