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Virgin Atlantic Puts $7 Million Creative Business in Review

Incumbent Crispin Will not Participate

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Citing a dramatically changing environment and new needs, Virgin Atlantic Airways is putting its $7 million U.S. creative and media account into review, said a company spokeswoman yesterday.
A short list of agencies preselected by the marketer will compete for the business.
A short list of agencies preselected by the marketer will compete for the business.

"Commercial objectives require a new approach to strongly position our brand and service offerings in a competitive marketplace. We look forward to aggressively building on our current growth and momentum," Chris Ross, Virgin Atlantic senior VP-North America, said in a statement.

Short list is ready
A short list of agencies preselected by the marketer will compete for the business, the spokeswoman said, but she declined to list specific contenders. Gilbert & Co., a New York-based consultancy, is handling the search.

Virgin bought $7 million in paid media last year, according to the Virgin spokeswoman. TNS reported $2 million in measured media for 2006. "We don't spend a lot compared to others," she said.

Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, which won the account after a review in 2003, will not participate, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

"Working with CP&B over the last four years has helped Virgin Atlantic rebuild our marketing platform in the United States. We've enjoyed significant commercial results thanks in no small part to the work done by CP&B," Mr. Rossi said. Crispin has handled both creative and media buying and planning.

Guerrilla tactics
A Crispin campaign launched last month in Chicago to promote the airline's Chicago-to-London service took aim at competitors by listing Virgin's in-air amenities, such as massages and an on-board bar for premium-class clients. Copy on one billboard riffed off of the longtime tagline of American Airlines' "something special in the air": "Dear Disgruntled Passengers: If you want something special in the air, try complimentary massages."

Crispin's recent work for Virgin included guerrilla tactics such as ads on dry-cleaning bags.

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