Aviation executives 'plug' it out for rights to slogan

March 21, 1992|By Dan Reed | Dan Reed,Fort Worth Star-Telegram

DALLAS -- A smoldering cigarette hanging from his lips, chain-smoking Southwest Airlines Chairman Herb Kelleher won big yesterday by losing an arm wrestling match dubbed the "Malice In Dallas."

The 61-year-old Mr. Kelleher, who said he trained for the event by bench pressing a quart of Wild Turkey and smoking five packs of cigarettes each day, lost the best-of-three arm wrestling match to 37-year-old Kurt Herwald, chairman of Stevens Aviation Inc., a general and corporate aviation sales and maintenance company in Greenville, S.C.

The two were competing for rights to a similiar slogan -- "Just Plane Smart" for Southwest, and "Plane Smart" for Stevens.

But after the match, held at the seedy Dallas Sportatorium wrestling arena, Mr. Herwald said he will allow Southwest to continue using the slogan.

Mr. Kelleher, a well-known publicity seeker who once dressed up as Elvis and strolled through Southwest's Dallas terminal, played the match for all it was worth, even conducting post-loss interviews from a ringside ambulance stretcher. He said he didn't know how much Southwest would have had to pay to get such advertising exposure.

"Why, I never even thought about it in those terms," he said in mock seriousness.

Mr. Herwald said he didn't know what to expect from Southwest.

"We had heard that Herb was kind of crazy, but we didn't know him then," Mr. Herwald said. "Now we do, and he's as crazy as everybody said he was."

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