NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Emirates Airlines is embarking on a global consolidation of its marketing account, according to people familiar with the matter, valued at more than $300 million in billings.
Major ad-holding companies have been invited to pitch the account, in specially formed teams. With such a juicy account up for grabs, top executives across the industry flocked to Dubai for meetings with the client last week. Among the executives were Omnicom Group CEO John Wren and BBDO Worldwide chief Andrew Robertson; WPP's Carolyn Carter, president-CEO of Grey Group's Europe, Middle East, Africa region; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Peter DeNunzio, president of DraftFCB, New York.
The review is expected to conclude in September.
Agency representatives either declined to comment or could not be immediately reached, while Emirates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Executives close to the pitch said Emirates' consolidation plan is intended to streamline the airline's marketing initiatives, thereby cutting costs and helping to establish a unified marketing message across various global markets.
Emirates is a relatively young carrier, around since 1985. It is owned by the government of Dubai and claims to have grown at least 20% annually since its entrance into the market.
For the past several years, Emirates has employed a virtual agency network dubbed EmPower, made up of more than 100 marketing agencies. It's also handed out assignments to agencies on a project basis. The move to a new marketing solution comes as Emirates attempts to take its brand to new, ahem, heights. The airline currently flies to some 100 destinations in 60 countries, but wants to expand its footprint.
Emirates flights account for nearly 40% of all flight movements in and out of Dubai International Airport, but the airline is working on a plan to increase market share to 70% by 2010.
Marketing-account consolidations have trended higher during the recession. The tough economy has prompted a host of global marketers across different industries -- Bayer, Hewlett-Packard, Sanofi-Aventis and Visa to name a few -- to consolidate business to slash expenses and find efficiencies in leaner agency rosters.