USAir Flies Solo With McCann

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EPB left at gate in airline's $30 mil consolidationIn a blow to roster agency Earle Palmer Brown, Bethesda, Md., USAir is moving its $20 million to $30 million retail advertising account to McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, agency for its corporate image advertising.

The change comes as USAir is looking to cut costs and expand international service.

"We've anticipated this," said EPB CEO Jeb Brown. "This doesn't have to do with performance; this has to do with changing the airline under a new CEO. They thought it would be more effective to consolidate. It's unfortunate, but not unforeseen."


The airline, with the highest costs in the industry, early this year hired new management-CEO Stephen Wolf, the former United Airlines CEO, and President Rakesh Gangwal, from Air France.

The agency also is expected to lose direct marketing to McCann but for now, at least, retains public relations. Direct marketing and PR billings are estimated at $15 million.

For McCann, the win adds to a long list of '96 new-business triumphs, including new accounts from other existing clients like AT&T Corp. and Chemical Bank.

In 1995, EPB reported billings of $366 million and revenues of $50 million. With the loss, revenue is expected to be down substantially in 1996.

One executive close to EPB estimates the USAir account is worth about 20% of the shop's current revenue. Mr. Brown disputes this number, saying revenue from USAir is less than 10%.

Five of EPB's largest accounts, including USAir, have been lost or are in review.

Last week, Yesawich Pepperdine Brown, Orlando, the partnership between EPB and Robinson, Yesawich & Pepperdine, lost its Florida State Lottery account to HMS McFarland & Drier, Miami.

EPB is currently vying to keep its $13 million Virginia Lottery account and the $2.5 million American Floral Marketing Council account. The agency's $7 million Golden Corral business also is up for review, without EPB as a contender.

EPB management has been a revolving door. In April, Steve Norcia, who joined in November 1994 as New York and Philadelphia managing director, left to join DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, as a global account director. Lonnie Strum, president of the Philadelphia shop, and Richmond, Va., Creative Director Terry Taylor both left EPB earlier this year.

Bill Bergman, Virginia chairman-president, left at the end of 1995.

A year ago, Creative Director Tom Darbyshire left the Bethesda office to join BBDO Worldwide, New York, as a creative director. EPB executives John Doig, Jeff Shur and Tim Elliott left with the Weight Watchers account and formed Doig Elliott Schur in 1994.

Contributing: Michael Wilke

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