Virgin Atlantic is searching for a creative agency to provide on-the-ground support in the North American market, and expects to make a decision by early December.
The account will be leaving Y&R New York, which worked on the business on the back of Virgin Atlantic's 20-year relationship with RKCR/Y&R in London. In August, RKCR/Y&R lost the global advertising account to Adam & Eve/DDB, which remains the lead global creative agency.
Virgin Atlantic has asked agency intelligence provider Creativebrief.com to find a partner to help the brand stand out in one of the airline industry's most competitive markets. North America is Virgin Atlantic's second biggest market after the U.K. -- the airline flies to more than 50 destinations in the region.
Simon Bradley, Virgin Atlantic's VP marketing, North America, said in a statement, "Y&R [New York] have done a tremendous job over the last five years, helping to launch some iconic creative campaigns in the U.S. and Canada. With the appointment of Adam & Eve/DDB as our global agency, we felt the time was right to review our creative support in North America and ensure we have the most appropriate resource in place to match our future ambitions."
With a U.S. budget of $10 to $15 million, Virgin is looking for a creative hotshop to focus on digital, social and experiential marketing. The winning agency will create mostly its own work, but will also adapt some of Adam & Eve/DDB's work for the North American market.
"Y&R New York and Virgin Atlantic are parting ways by end of year," the incumbent agency confirmed in a statement. "We have enjoyed a rewarding relationship that has resulted in Cannes Lion-award winning work, and we wish the Virgin Atlantic team the best in all their future endeavors. We will not be participating in the agency review."
Virgin Atlantic Airways is 51% owned by Richard Branson's Virgin Group and 49% owned by Delta Airlines. In February 2013, Virgin Atlantic appointed Craig Kreeger as CEO. Mr. Kreeger, an American, joined from American Airlines, signaling the importance of the U.S. market to Virgin Atlantic. (Virgin America, which flies only within the U.S., is majority-owned by Virgin Group and isn't involved in the pitch).
One of RKCR/Y&R's final ads for the airline showed babies with superhuman skills growing up to be Virgin Atlantic employees.
Contributing: Malika Toure