DELTA, UNITED TO ROLL OUT DOMESTIC AD CAMPAIGNS: AIRLINES' NEW AGENCIES ZERO IN ON CUSTOMER WITH SPRING PUSHES

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The race is on to overhaul images at Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, and domestic passengers are getting new attention even as the carriers work to improve trans-Atlantic service.

In a 90-second spot that broke April 13 on "CNN Worldwide," Delta is teasing both the coming revamped look of its fleet and its focus on customers.

The commercial was produced in four weeks by new agency Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York.

REDESIGNED FLEET

Delta's fleet of aircraft will get a new look that retains the dark blue and red colors but in a different design.

TV shows a time-lapse sequence of a plane being repainted; the voice-over by "Chicago Hope" star Christine Lahti says, "It's not paint .*.*. it's not even a plane. It's a sign, a promise, a statement to you from all of us that the future of Delta Air Lines revolves around you."

An estimated $40 million campaign, themed "On top of the world," is expected to begin airing within a month.

United will unveil creative by mid-May from new domestic agency Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, themed with one as-yet-undisclosed word.

Part of the campaign will tout new regional comfort food-economy-class cuisines such as Kansas City barbecued brisket and Rustic Tarragon Chicken in Repose from Seattle.

The food changes are part of United's new Customer Satisfaction Philosophy.

Both carriers are playing catch-up with major international carriers, primarily British Airways and Air France, which both introduced radical first-class sleeper-seats last year.

AIR FRANCE REVIEW

Ahead of the U.S.-based airlines in cabin upgrades, Air France is now following their lead and has undertaken an agency review of its estimated $45 million to $70 million global account. U.S. ad spending is only about $4 million.

Air France's U.S. business is currently handled by Blum/Herbstreith, for creative; media is at VSM Media and Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/ Euro RSCG. All three are in New York.

Four Paris-based agencies are competing for Air France's account: Ammirati Puris Lintas; Audour, Soum, Larue/SMS; Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide; and Euro RSCG Gregoire, Blachere, Huard & Roussel.

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