BBH wins British Airways – after a bit of a bumpy ride

British Airways has, finally, done the sensible thing and re-appointed BBH to its ad account. BA won in a pitch against digital-cum-ad agency-cum all-sorts-of-other-bits Sapient Nitro.

British Airways head of marketing Abigail Comber says: “We launched this pitch in order to explore the agency market place and see what was on offer, as we had had some of our larger agency contracts for many years. Being conscious that the agency market place and consumer consumption of advertising has changed, we set out a challenge to put engaging content at the heart of every piece of communication, whatever the channel.

“The process was rigorous and we were clear with all the agencies that the solution that delivered us great creativity combined with economies of scale would be the winner. We wanted them to be radical.

“The BBH team didn’t rest on its laurels and really pulled out all the stops to create a bespoke solution, pulling together talent from different pools and demonstrating that they can manage our account across the range of disciplines. Most importantly, it’s a model that will work in the future too.”

To cement the deal BBH has assembled a joint venture with Seven Seconds owners Simon Hall and Warren Moore, a direct marketing shop. This business has moved from OgilvyOne.

So has BA done the right thing? Well, it’s a luxury brand and therefore needs the best ads – you don’t fly BA to get the best prices or, indeed, the most reliable service – you fly it because you can.

So image is all important. Sapient Nitro is a very interesting box of tricks and it’s produced some interesting ad campaigns – one for Ladbrokes I seem to recall although the business subsequently moved to – BBH. But it was bizarre to find it on a final shoot-out with BBH, unless some people in BA were determined to go all digital.

A decent shortlist might have read: BBH, Adam&Eve/DDB and Wieden+Kennedy.

But there you go; BBH’s last campaign ‘To Fly To Serve’ (above) was pretty decent without being the show-stopper it might have been. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another eight years or so for the next one.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.