British Airways has drawn up a shortlist of four for its £60m worldwide account including both the old and new Saatchi agencies.
The full list also includes J Walter Thompson and `the big surprise’, Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The review was triggered by the ousting of Saatchi & Saatchi group chairman Maurice Saatchi last month. There is a four-month notice period on the account.
The pitch is expected to take place in eight weeks time. The fee is currently worth more than £4m, according to inside sources.
It was widely believed that the BA business would follow Maurice Saatchi but last week BA group managing director Robert Ayling indicated that there would be a competitive pitch.
However the pitch list has surprised industry observers because two of the agencies – BBH and the New Saatchi Agency – do not have international networks. Both Ogilvy & Mather and Lowe Howard-Spink had been tipped as contenders for the account.
Maurice Saatchi is believed to have made an abortive overture to DMB&B about forming a co-venture, but based around Procter & Gamble business.
“We need an agency that can maintain BA’s leading position and handle a range of campaigns from the global masterbrand image positioning to local tactical advertising,” says Ayling. “This review will establish which agency can provide both thencreative work and the world-wide reach to support all our markets.”
The Saatchi & Saatchi group is suing Bill Muirhead, its former US chief executive officer, for breach of contract. The lawsuit served in New York seeks £30m damages and also alleges misappropriation of confidential group information.