United Continental Holdings Seeks Post-Merger Agency

Total Marketing Spending Anticipated in $100 Million Range

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Less than six months after forming United Continental Holdings, the airline giant is searching for a new creative agency partner to market its newly merged offering to consumers, industry executives said.

The timing of the review is on track with plans United and Continental announced when the merger drew to a close in October 2010. At that time, the company said it expects "travelers will begin to see a more unified product in the sprint of 2011, as the carriers integrate key customer-service and marketing activities to deliver a more unified product."

United Continental representatives did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Under the deal, the new airline will be known as United, but is keeping Continental's blue-globe logo. The new company's headquarters are in Chicago, with a large presence in the company's biggest hub, Houston.

Measured media spending for the combined airlines, according to Kantar, is conservative. United and Continental spent a total of $63.2 million in 2010, up from $48.7 million in 2009. However, unmeasured media is estimated to put the combined total marketing spend closer to $100 million, and it's safe to assume that the merged company will need to elevate its spending significantly in order to demonstrate to consumers the benefits of bringing together the two airlines.

The creative incumbents for United and Continental are Minneapolis-based Barrie D'Rozario Murphy and Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, respectively. Representatives for both shops did not return requests for comment by press time.

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