Delta Airlines has appointed Leo Burnett to its $100m (&£63m) global ad account, putting the agency in a strong position to win the new global identity work for its fledgling alliance with Air France.
The Delta review, exclusively revealed in Marketing Week (MW May 27), came after a campaign by incumbent Saatchi & Saatchi – using the strapline “On top of the world”, was widely criticised for being confusing and failing to communicate customer service improvements.
The four-way pitch included Burnett and Saatchi. Grey and TBWA Worldwide were also thought to be on the list.
Delta had been struggling to find alliance partners and was left behind by rivals United Airlines, one of the founders of the Star Alliance, and American Airlines, which with British Airways has formed the powerful, but troubled, Oneworld alliance. Delta has now aligned with Air France, and is also expected to sign up AeroMexico as a partner.
Meanwhile, there are rumours Delta and Air France have had talks with British Midland, which is lobbying hard for transatlantic slots from Heathrow.
The loss is a severe blow to Saatchi. The Delta account is believed to be worth &£8.8m a year in revenue to parent Cordiant.
Delta chief executive officer Leo Mullin says: “Delta is doing a lot to improve customer service and we need to communicate with our customers more. We were particularly impressed with the level of understanding demonstrated by the Burnett team.”