The agency beat out Publicis Worldwide and DDB Worldwide in the third round of a pitch that started late last year with nearly every agency in Singapore bidding for the prized account. Singapore Airlines changed the nature of airline marketing globally over 30 years ago with ads featuring the iconic "Singapore Girl." Even now, the airline's corporate-branding ads feature flight attendants wearing the airline's hallmark "sarong kebaya" uniform.
The airline's total advertising business is valued at about $66 million including media buying, which remains with Mediaedge:cia in Singapore.
Singapore Airlines has not disclosed the value of its creative business, "but it's a very big win," said Philip Brett, chairman of TBWA Group in Singapore and regional CEO, Asia/Pacific. "It's one of the biggest brands in Southeast Asia and it's great for us and our media- and channel-neutral creative approach to be endorsed by a brand as big as SIA."
TBWA has worked with the airline since late 2004, when its Tequila division won the airline's global advertising business for its KrisFlyer loyalty program, an account worth about $10 million, following a pitch against Young & Rubicam and the incumbent, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Draft Worldwide. Tequila will continue to work on the KrisFlyer program, but the account will be handled separately from SIA's creative business.
Blow to Batey
The second phase of SIA's creative pitch narrowed to eight agencies in January, including the incumbent, Batey, plus Saatchi & Saatchi; Leo Burnett; Young & Rubicam; and Gold, a unit established for the SIA pitch by Bates and Ogilvy & Mather.
TBWA's appointment is a particular blow to Batey, which has overseen SIA's advertising since the airline was established in 1972. The agency, founded by Ian Batey, raised the brand awareness of the airline and Singapore overall around the globe.
Losing its flagship account will put pressure on Batey in a highly competitive advertising market. The cracks in Batey's hold on the prized account started to show in early 2001, when a significant chunk of the business, SIA's promotion-based consumer advertising, was handed to Bates.