The Air Miles concept was a team effort

Regarding your profile of Keith Mills and the invention of Air Miles (MW October 13), I would like to say that, for the record, Air Miles was invented by Alan Dellor – the then commercial director of British Caledonian Airways – and the partners of the advertising agency Mills, Smith & Partners. These were: Keith Mills, Brian Smith, William Kershaw, Nick Tomlin, Peter Badham and me.

Alan Dellor had recognised the possibility of using unsold airline seats as promotional rewards. Keith Mills had the idea of dividing air journeys into units of miles. I suggested that we follow the Green Shield Stamps model by giving away these units of miles with various goods – from fridges to suits – the perceived value of flights making the reward more attractive than sales discounts. From this, Air Miles was born.

About six months after this, Liam Cowdrey joined Mills Smith as finance director. We then formed the Air Miles Travel Promotions Company Limited – which was owned by Alan Dellor and the agency partners.

Liam Cowdrey and Keith Mills went on to produce the business plan and with Alan Dellor made presentations to British Airways – while I in turn, was responsible for the Air Miles flying boat identity.

Keith went on to work tirelessly around the globe promoting and selling the Air Miles concept. Without his energy and his unique talent for bringing people and businesses together Air Miles would not have got off the ground. However, the entire venture was a team effort with each of the agency partners making a valuable contribution.

Geoffrey Bean

Creative director

Tomlin Bean

London W1

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