OGILVY WINS DELTA AIR LINES AD ACCOUNT

Creative and Media Work Valued at $25 Million

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Delta Air Lines has handed its $25 million creative and media account to WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and MindShare, according to executives close to the matter.

The review was narrowed earlier this month

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to a shootout between Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide and OMD and the WPP shops. The decision thwarts BBDO's plan to recapture a business that it held for 40 years, until 1997.

Well-traveled account
Since then, the account, which went up for review in July, has been well-traveled. The most recent incumbents, independent Atlanta boutique Brighthouse for creative and Publicis Groupe's Starcom for media, were eliminated from the review in August. Brighthouse had the account for only 13 months, after winning it from Publicis' Leo Burnett, which had it from 2000-03. Prior to Burnett, the account was with Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi, from 1997-2000.

Like most traditional carriers, Delta, the U.S.' third-largest carrier, is facing stiff business challenges, including competition from discount airlines. The company is also working to restructure a heavy debt load and could be on its way to a bankruptcy filing, especially if it can't win concessions from its pilots in its ongoing contract negotiations.

Sought-after assignment
Despite the overall problems plaguing the industry, airlines remain high-profile and desirable accounts. In addition to the finalists and the incumbents, WPP's J. Walter Thompson and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe and Lowe Media pitched for the business. Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, was also eliminated from the creative portion of the review.