Walker Media has lost the &£18m British Airways (BA) media strategy account, following a cost-cutting review by the airline.
The business has been consolidated into Optimedia, which already handles BA’s strategy (except in the UK) and buying globally. A BA spokeswoman says that both media agencies were asked to repitch for the account.
Walker, in which BA’s creative agency M&C Saatchi has an equity stake, has held the strategy account from launch in January 1998.
BA spent &£18m on advertising last year (AC Nielsen/MEAL) and an estimated &£30m on direct marketing, but is believed to have cut its budgets to reflect new market conditions.
The airline began reviewing its agency roster after the terrorist attacks of September 11 on the US. In October, it consolidated its direct marketing account, dropping Claydon Heeley Jones Mason and retaining Tullo Marshall Warren as its lead below-the-line agency.
Walker Media recently picked up new business in the form of the media planning and buying accounts for First Choice’s Air 2000 carrier, and shampoo and beauty manufacturer Umberto Gianini.
The company is believed to have retained the account for the Oneworld airline alliance, which is spearheaded by British Airways, but no one from Oneworld was available for comment.