Delta awards Burnett $100m prize

LONDON - Leo Burnett has won the $100 million Delta Air Lines global account after the US client saw pitches from TBWA Worldwide, Grey Advertising and the incumbent, Saatchi & Saatchi.

All the pitches were carried out in New York. Saatchis was criticisedfor its ’on top of the world’ campaign which confused consumers. Theline was meant to imply that Delta put customers on top of the world,but was widely interpreted as referring to the airline’s financialperformance.

Burnett’s win comes three years after it lost its long-standing UnitedAirlines account to Fallon McElligott and Young & Rubicam. Burnett’spitch team was led by Lisa Bennett, the agency’s executivevice-president and managing creative director.

She declared that a newcampaign would concentrate on rebuilding the relationship withconsumers.Delta, which is the third largest carrier in the US, has seen a dramaticmanagement shake-up this year. Its first European marketing director was appointed in July, when it was announced that Jonathan Sumner wasjoining from the Hilton Group.

The airline had by far the worst record for overbooking its flightsduring the second quarter of 1999, making the advertising even moredifficult for Saatchis, which failed to address Delta’s need to improveits image on customer service.Saatchis won the Delta account in March 1997. At the time, it was seenas compensation for the loss, two years previously, of the BritishAirways business to M&C Saatchi.

Saatchis’ first global branding campaign was released in October 1997,spearheaded by a blockbuster TV commercial intended to focus on theemotional reasons customers might want to fly with Delta.

The film showed a variety of potential customers tying their reasons fortravel to a balloon. The scraps of paper, on which words like ’fun’ and’Rebecca’ were written, were gathered up by an air hostess, who placedeach one on a Delta Air Lines seat.