Move Is a Blow to Longtime Incumbent M&C Saatchi

By Published on .

LONDON ( -- British Airways is handing its $90 million global advertising account to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, ending a 23-year relationship with Maurice and Charles Saatchi.

The shift, effective Nov. 15, follows a shootout among incumbent M&C Saatchi, Bartle Bogle, WPP Group’s JWT and Omnicom Group’s DDB.

Bartle Bogle “joins us at an exciting time as we embark upon a period of major product and service investment,” said Martin George, commercial director at the airline, noting that the shop’s “reputation for creativity and strategic thinking will greatly help British Airways maintain our position as a leader in innovative global marketing and advertising.”

Changing environment
Mr. George said that while BA has “enjoyed a long and successful relationship with M&C Saatchi, which has produced many memorable campaigns for us over the years,” the airline “must look to the future now and adapt to the changing environment in which we operate and the needs of our business.”

Nigel Bogle, CEO of BBH Group, said: "There's something very special about representing your nation's flag carrier. It's been no secret that we've wanted this for a long time and we look forward to being BA's partner around the world." Bartle Bogle is backed by Publicis Groupe.

The U.K.’s Haystack Group handled the pitch, which was overseen by BA’s head of global marketing, Jill McDonald, and Jayne O’Brien, head of marketing in the U.K. and Ireland. The review was part of a cost-cutting drive sparked by the arrival of a new CEO, Willie Walsh, from Aer Lingus.

Flagship account
Losing the account is a crushing blow to M&C Saatchi. The business accounts for about 7% of the agency’s revenue and is its flagship. The Saatchi brothers’ first agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, won the British Airways account in 1982 and created the well-known tagline “The World’s Favorite Airline.” When the Saatchi brothers were ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi in 1995, they pitched against their former agency and won the business. At the time, the brothers’ agency was so new it didn’t even have a name and had to borrow a conference room for the pitch. Ironically, Bartle Bogle was brought in as a dark horse in that review a decade ago and almost won the account then.

David Kershaw, CEO of M&C Saatchi, said, “We are very sad that such a long and successful partnership has come to an end. It is 10 years since M&C Saatchi started working with BA, and 23 years since the M&C Saatchi partners first worked with it. In that time, we have helped to grow and develop its business to become one of the world’s most successful airlines.”

Most Popular