First Choice hands £4m creative account to BMB

Beattie McGuinness Bungay lands task as holiday company looks upmarket.

Beattie McGuiness Bungay has been appointed to the £4 million creative account for First Choice Holidays.

The agency won the business in a straight shoot-out with HHCL/Red Cell after Karmarama, the third agency on the shortlist, was dropped at an earlier stage. Walsh Trott Chick Smith, the incumbent, declined to repitch.

First Choice's media account, held by Walker Media, was unaffected by the review.

The win comes as First Choice looks to expand its recently launched long-haul business and target higher-spending, more upmarket tourists.

Earlier this year, the travel group announced a refit of its aircraft, increasing available legroom and improving the quality of in-flight meals and entertainment on its three long-haul aircraft.

First Choice is also the first European company to take delivery of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.

In December 2004, First Choice appointed a non-roster creative agency called Phoenix to promote its long-haul routes to places including Mexico and the Caribbean.

Phoenix created the animated animal characters Oswald the Ostrich and Nellie the Elephant used by the holiday company in its sponsorship of the ITV1 series I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!. It will sponsor the fifth series.

Steve Baily, the mainstream holidays sector marketing services director for First Choice, said: "We were impressed with the contribution of each of the pitching agencies involved. However, we felt that BMB had the edge in what it put forward. It demonstrated a really good understanding of our business and where we want to take it."

BMB came to the pitch late, after Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO pulled out of what was then a five-agency longlist to make an unsuccessful bid for the British Airways business.

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