British Airways flies to Uncommon destination after four years with WPP

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Analysis of the major advertising and media account moves of the week. Keep up with the latest client reviews and pitches here.

In this week’s installment of our new account moves and reviews column, we look at the air travel and tourism brands hoping a refresh of their agency partnerships will bring them safely to a new destination.

The big story this Friday is the passing of the British Airways creative and CRM account from WPP’s Ogilvy, where it had rested for four years, to indie challenger Uncommon Creative Studio. The announcement followed a competitive pitch that also involved Omnicom, Havas and IPG.

Tom Stevens, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: “Uncommon is a highly talented, independent agency that impressed us with a strong differentiated creative proposal. At British Airways we always seek out the very best agencies to work with. I’d like to thank WPP for the great partnership over the last few years and we are now looking forward to a bright new chapter.”

Uncommon cited their new customer experience (CX) practice as a prime factor behind the account win; the new brief will see them attempt to build out BA’s CRM capabilities as it recovers from the annus horribilis of 2020.

WPP’s results, released earlier this week, highlighted its strength in data and media, but downplayed the recovery of its creative shops, including Ogilvy.

Forrester analyst Jay Patissall says the earnings report showed “strong results“ and that WPP’s “business has recovered faster than anticipated by themselves and by the market.“

But he points out that although the flagship agency had been investing in its martech and consulting capabilities recently, those tools may not yet be mature enough to tempt clients. “Ogilvy has made a lot of moves into martech and consulting and it just obviously hasn’t paid off yet. They’re yet to come to fruition,“ he says.

IAG, the parent firm of BA, is also reviewing its group media account, while brands Vueling and Iberia are currently looking for a creative agency.

Pitch and yaw

IAG and British Airways aren’t the only aviators that have looked to refresh their agency partnerships lately. Virgin Atlantic currently has an RFI issued for its next global PR brief. The airline wants a retained PR agency that can promote its ’business for good’ positioning worldwide, while Skytra, an air travel fintech owned by Airbus, appointed Boldspace to take on its PR and comms account with a retainer at the beginnning of the month.

Meanwhile in the adjacent tourism sector, Airbnb Australia appointed Thrive as its PR firm; the company will help its consumer and corporate PR work, helping to convert consumers and shield the brand from political blowback.

Moves you may have missed

  • Wunderman Thompson has been appointed lead digital experience agency for the United Nations Development program.

  • BBH has been tipped by Ribena after a competitive pitch against four other agencies; Wunderman Thompson was the incumbent.

  • Nestlé Indonesia has named Dentsu International Indonesia to handle e-commerce, social, programmatic, SEO and performance for its entire portfolio in Indonesia.

  • Ilk has been appointed by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership to deliver a digital campaign promoting a digital skills program.

  • Erich & Kallman has palled up with Friendly’s restaurants as its new agency-of-record.

  • Pixel Kicks has been appointed by luxury bed linen brand Christy.

  • Public Label Canada has been hired by Autism Canada as its strategy and creative agency partner.