Midwest Airlines is relying more and more on its trademark chocolate chip cookie, which it bakes on board as part of its ‘best care in the air’ branding. The cookie is now a weapon in its arsenal against the unfriendly advances of AirTran Airways. AirTran has been trying to buy Midwest since last year, and has raised its offer three times; the Midwest board rejected AirTran’s $389-million ‘final’ offer last week, and is now lining up votes for its 14 June annual meeting at which Midwest shareholders will be asked to affirm that rejection. The airline, based in Milwaukee, has just created a new website, savethecookie.com, to let its loyal customers and shareholders register their opposition to an AirTran takeover with an on-line petition, a share-with-a-friend function and a booking tool.The airline has received strong support in its home region, where local boosters see AirTran as a bad guy who will turn its hometown airline into just another low-fare airline.Over the past few months, Midwest explains, it has received “hundreds of inquiries expressing support and asking the same question, ‘What can I do to help’? The answer is simple: make your voice heard”.
It’s far from certain that this will drive AirTran away from the gates, since it too is run by one tough cookie in the form of Joe Leonard, but Chip, Midwest’s cookie-shaped mascot, will doubtless win more friends once they look at his personal page on myspace.com (linked from the savethecookie site) where he talks about a few of his favourite things including in-flight movies like ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’. Chip has won some early interest from Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, who notes on Chip’s myspace page “me want to eat you,” but it’s hard to say if this is purely a personal statement or a sign of things to come as AirTran pursues its takeover and tries to digest Midwest.