AIRLINES' STAR ALLIANCE BRINGS BRIERLEY ON BOARD: DIRECT AGENCY WILL GET VARIOUS LOYALTY EFFORTS TO FLY IN UNISON

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The star alliance of international airlines named Brierley & Partners its direct marketing agency, with initial spending estimated at $4 million.

The consortium chose the Dallas agency over contenders that included BBDO Worldwide; Foote, Cone & Belding; and Young & Rubicam's Wunderman Cato Johnson. Y&R Advertising handles Star Alliance's general advertising.

Brierley has specialized in creating loyalty programs for the retail and travel industries, and that expertise will come into play for the Star Alliance.

The main objective is to help increase communication among the individual loyalty programs within the alliance, consisting of Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Al Nippon, Ansett Australia, Lufthansa German Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines System, Thai Airways, Varig Brazilian Airlines and United Airlines.

BRANDS WORKING TOGETHER

"The biggest challenge for all the airline alliances is how to get the brands to work closely and easily together," said David Coltman, outgoing senior VP-marketing at United.

The first stage involves research, then using it to create programs to encourage overall loyalty to Star Alliance carriers.

"It makes a regional benefit become a global benefit," said Lou Ramery, exec VP-marketing at Brierley. 'We want to identify those best customers for whom global recognition and seamless service are most important."

"We will be developing strategies that will attract trial and build preference for Star Alliance carriers, typically in their non-home markets," said agency President Hal Brierley.

Carriers' individual frequent flier programs will remain in place, but Brierley's efforts will tie them together. Part of the assignment includes increasing customer awareness of these programs through direct mail and e-mail marketing.

Brierley is agency of record for United's Mileage Plus loyalty program, and Mr. Coltman, who leaves the airline at yearend, is pleased with the choice. "The brand of United and the brand of Star have to co-exist," he explained. "The understanding of United is very helpful. Things will be done quicker."

While Brierley "came with the blessing of United, they earned their spurs

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