Gulf Air is understood to have kicked off a pan-European review of its advertising and media accounts in a move that signals a revival of marketing activity for the airline.
The national carrier of Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Abu Dhabi appointed MindShare and J. Walter Thompson to handle its pounds 12 million account in January 1999.
JWT, which beat Ogilvy & Mather, Grey, WCRS and DDB in a pitch for the business, was tasked with creating to a global TV ad campaign backed by press and poster activity. However, the campaign, which was intended to help Gulf overtake its rival, Emirates as the biggest Middle Eastern carrier, never materialised. Gulf Air's annual media spend has since shrunk to below pounds 1 million.
The pan-European nature of the review reinforces London as the centre of marketing activity for Gulf Air. The carrier uses the city as the international hub for its flights and the bulk of its advertising activity traditionally takes place in the UK.
Gulf Air's decision to contact agencies based in the UK directly contrasts with the previous review, which JWT won through its Middle East office.
A British focus to the company's marketing was further confirmed earlier this year when Gulf Air moved the contract for its inflight magazine Golden Falcon to the UK publisher Brass Tacks. The title had previously been published in Bahrain.
The timing of the review fits a pattern of activity for the airline's account, which had lain dormant with WCRS for two years before the JWT appointment. Gulf Air's ad activity has traditionally been triggered by the threat of losing ground to Emirates.
Gulf Air was unavailable for comment as Campaign went to press.