Sri Lankan airline appoints O&M affiliate

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COLOMBO -- Sri Lanka's largest advertiser, Air Lanka, has appointed WPP's Ogilvy & Mather affiliate Phoenix Advertising to handle its advertising and communications business.

The account is expected to bill around $3 million, almost doubling the Sri Lankan agency's present billing.

The win follows a competitive pitch between six agencies, and "a final round shoot out" against Foote Cone & Belding and J. Walter Thompson, according to O&M Regional President Miles Young.

"This was a first class win," he says. "The competing agencies pitched from their regional offices in Singapore and Hong Kong, whereas O&M's pitch was led from Sri Lanka, but using the resources of the regional network."

This recent pitch is the second the airline has held in the past year. Last November Phoenix Advertising Managing Director Irvin Weerackody, and Director of Strategic Planning Andrew Samuel worked with O&M Mumbai creative teams to develop the winning "delightfully small" campaign. The print and TV work focused on the airline's smaller size being an asset in catering for the personal needs of passengers.

But Air Lanka was subsequently bought by Emirates, triggering a second pitch. In the first pitch Phoenix depicted Air Lanka's size as a plus factor, says Mr. Weerackody. "Small size allows it to offer more personalized service and better cater to the smallest of individual needs. But when Emirates took over the management of Air Lanka in January, they felt that with big plans in the pipeline, 'delightfully small' might not be appropriate."

The airline is the largest advertising account in Sri Lanka by far, making Phoenix now the largest advertising agency in Sri Lanka, overtaking incumbent JWT.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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