UNITED TELLS SHOPS: TARGET ROAD WARRIORS PITCHES TO FOCUS ON BIZ TRAVELERS

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United Airlines wants its friendly skies to be raided by road warriors.

Insiders at last week's agency briefing for United's $100 million account review said the airline is seeking a global repositioning campaign that will increase its base of lucrative frequent business travelers.

NO LEISURE MARKET TARGETED

"Road warriors" would not be part of ad copy, but the term represents the valued targets of individual business travelers and the companies that choose airlines.

Leisure travelers were not discussed at the meeting at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel near Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, attended by finalists Leo Burnett USA, the 31-year incumbent; Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis; and New York agencies Ammirati Puris Lintas, Young & Rubicam and TBWA/Chiat Day.

Attendees said United produced a comprehensive study about travelers, but focused on business travelers and their perceptions of the airline. The assignment, attendees said, is to increase preference among road warriors for flying United and to present creative and strategic work supporting that mission.

ANOTHER ROUND SEEN

There will be another round before a winner is picked in mid-October, said a United spokeswoman. Those at the briefing said all five agencies are expected to make recommendations and presentations Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, with a cut to two to three shops by early October. Those finalists will then present to management.

HOWE LEADS BRIEFING

The briefing was given by Director of Advertising and Promotion Michael Howe, who was president-CEO of Y&R Detroit until 1995. David Coltman, senior VP-marketing, who is leading the review with Mr. Howe, was not present.

Although not a formal part of the briefing, agencies understood that keeping the "Come fly our friendly skies" theme or the current United music was not a recommended move.

Burnett's pitch is being led not by its new United account team, but by a new-business team including Deputy Chief Creative Officer Cheryl Berman, President-USA Linda Wolf and VP-Business Development Lindsay Landsberg.

Rivals for the account are not counting Burnett out, though several attendees suspect the account may end up being split between a global agency and a smaller creative shop.

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