New York-based Agency.com beat four London shops: Optimedia Interactive, a unit of media buyer Optimedia; Explorer; AKQA; and KBW, which created British Air's first Web site.
AGENCY.COM BEATS OUT 25
The review initially included 25 shops and was narrowed to the five finalists during the summer.
Compared to British Air's $95 million advertising budget via M&C Saatchi, the Internet budget is modest: an initial investment of about $1 million, said Julia Groves, advertising and new media executive at British Air.
First on Agency.com's task list: to revamp the existing site.
"The priority is to develop selling online, marketing one-to-one and better servicing," Ms. Groves said.
Online, 90% of the traffic to British Airways' site (http://www.
british-airways.com) comes from North America and the U.K.; those customers account for about 70% of British Airways' sales.
LOOK OUT LONDON, HERE THEY COME
For Agency.com, the business win means the 18-month-old shop will open a London office by mid-September to service the account. Principal Chan Suh said he plans to move three staffers from the New York office to London.
Omnicom Group is believed to be considering an agency investment or acquisition in the coming months, but Mr. Suh declined to comment on his agency's ongoing talks with interested investors.
"We're a private company," he said. "We're not for sale."
Contributing: Laurel Wentz.