Easyjet takes the social media route by giving ad account to Chime’s Icon

New Easyjet marketing director Peter Duffy has laid his cards on the table by appointing Icon, part of Tim Bell’s Chime Communications, as its headline ad agency.

Only Icon isn’t an ad agency at all, it’s a social media specialist. Therefore Easyjet is planning to give up on adverts (its previous agency was Publicis London) and work its wonders via Facebook.

This is probably quite sensible from Duffy, formerly the marketing director of Audi in the UK. Airline advertising in the UK has been crap for years as British Airways has pulled out of the market, Easyjet has run price comparison supermarket-style ads and market leader Ryanair has been, well, Ryanair.

In a way airlines in the UK have reverted to what retail was in the 1970s, ‘pile it high, flog it cheap.’ Doesn’t say much for the serried ranks of marketers inhabiting their big fancy offices (or their CEOs) but there you go.

Duffy’s CEO is Carolyn McCall, once of the Guardian, and she’s clearly decided to endorse a different strategy. Maybe she thinks that bigger rival Ryanair is so hated that Easyjet can drum up fans (and flights) on Facebook and co.

Right or wrong, she’ll be spending far less than Easyjet’s previous ad budget of £20m.

As for Icon what is there to say? Visitors to Chime’s website will come away not much better informed.

You’d think there’d someone in Lord Bell’s mighty empire who could write a few persuasive words about it.

But never mind, Icon has beaten the mighty Grey to the business. Which will be call for celebration in Icon and Chime’s Curzon Street offices if not at neighbouring WPP in Farm Street.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.