How badly has the Southwest Airlines brand been tarnished among US consumers in the LGBT community since they removed actress Leisha Hailey and her musician partner after kissing on a flight one week ago?
As bad as when the airline canceled 300 flights and grounded 79 aircraft for cracks back in April.
The nosedive of Southwest’s brand perception in the past week fell sharper and faster than April’s crisis with adults 18+ who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.
In April, Southwest’s perception tumbled badly throughout April across the board with all adults 18+, adults 18+ who have flown domestically in the past 12 months and adults 18+ LGBT. Although the brand has bounced back from its April lows, it has stabilized at a new, lower Buzz level.
With this newest public relations issue, Southwest’s perception scores tailed off mildly with the first two groups, but fell hard with the third one.
Southwest Airlines was measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" A score can range from 100 to -100 and is compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
Southwest’s buzz score with LGBT adults 18+ dropped from 23 on September 20th to -9.5 on September 30th. By comparison, it took three weeks for Southwest to drop 19 points in buzz score back in April.