Now WPP hands British Airways to grateful Ogilvy

Another big ripe plum has fallen into Ogilvy London’s lap courtesy of its WPP parent, British Airways (mostly from BBH, below) hard on the heels of Vodafone and Walgreens Boots Alliance, three creative accounts with a combined media billing of well over £100m.

Ogilvy One will handle the CRM part of BA’s business (the biggest in recent years as BA has not essayed much high profile advertising). BA is owned by International Airlines Group (IAG) and its Avios rewards scheme and cargo business will also be handled by Ogilvy. Media moves from Carat to WPP’s GroupM.

BA says it was looking for a “transformational model to streamline a number of its marketing services” including media planning, strategy and buying, creative services, social media, paid search, affiliates and production.

All of which WPP/Ogilvy is well placed to provide. It’s an almost exact replica of the Boots account change where long-time incumbent independent agency Mother was ditched for WPP/Ogilvy. Procurement played a big part in that as, no doubt, it did here. WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has been voluble recently in his complaints about rival agencies pitching for business at “unrealistic” prices but WPP can clearly play the numbers game when it chooses.

One media agency told me recently that it thought it had won a big media account with a competitive price only for the client to come back and demand £7m more in savings. This, it thought, was undeliverable. What seems to happen is that the promised savings are not delivered but the media agency blames the client for not placing orders in time and therefore taking advantage of early payment discounts; impossible in practice for, say, retailers who have constant last minute and seasonal promotions.

New Ogilvy London CEO and CCO Mick Mahoney won’t be complaining about all this new business though, whatever the terms.

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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.


  1. Patrick Hillier

    This article reinforces how poor the journalism is at More About Advertising. There is one thing writing controversial content but quite another to completely make up factually incorrect stories.

    It’s hugely insulting to the army of people in adland who fort 7 months to win a pitch of this scale. It’s speculative stories like this that demoralises the talented people in our industry.

    Marketing Week and Campaign set a good precedent in terms of helping to support our industry and talent. It would be nice to see you follow suit.

  2. What’s made up?

  3. Interesting to read that according to Mr. Hiller, the Poisoned Dwarf’s troops FORT for seven months. Surely it takes longer than that to build a castle.