Asia's most creative partnerships: Cathay Pacific & McCann

The creative partnership between McCann and Cathay Pacific has evolved considerably since the agency was appointed in 1993.

The team assigned to the account has developed beyond just McCann and drawn in the Interpublic Group to build a full-service agency in miniature. Today, the Cathay Pacific Central Team sits across 34 markets comprising an integrated mix from McCann, UM and MRM. 

It is managed by Brandon Cheung and led creatively by Martin Lever, executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup Hong Kong. The team marked Cathay Pacific’s 60th anniversary in 2006 with a campaign that both underscored the role the airline has played in the lives of Hong Kong’s people and celebrated the territory’s wry sense of humour. 

More recently, the team launched the "Life well travelled" global brand promise for the airline, which allowed social and key influencers to steer the campaign online with the hashtag #lifewelltravelled. So far, the tag has garnered 370,000 posts on Instagram and has helped raise brand consideration globally by 10%. 

Julian Lyden 

General manager marketing, loyalty programmes and CRM, Cathay Pacific

The McCann team gets our culture. A lot of things don’t need to be said and neither side wastes time being too polite to say what they really think. 

Having a dedicated team helps as well. It’s good to know that you aren’t competing with another client for their attention. If they are overloaded, it’s with our stuff, and we can have a grown-up discussion about it. 

We often ask for things that can be far outside the usual scope of agency work, but don’t take the mickey – it would be our own time we were wasting. 

Like any good relationship, however, the occasional beer is what really holds things together.

Brandon Cheung 

Managing partner, McCann Cathay Pacific Central Team

The Cathay Pacific-McCann relationship dates back 23 years, but the spirit of continuous improvement is active. Ours is a relationship based on trust.

Cathay Pacific is embedded in our creative process, and has allowed us the necessary access to understand its business and see its challenges with clarity, long before they ever become briefs. And Cathay Pacific has a better understanding of the marketing challenges and opportunities we see. We complement each other. It’s a winning combination.