M&C Saatchi out of the running for £60m BA account

LONDON - The Saatchi brothers and their M&C Saatchi agency have been dropped by British Airways, after running the prestigious account for 23 years.

The loss of the £60m global account will be a huge blow to Maurice and Charles Saatchi. Although BA only represents about 6%-7% of the agency's worldwide revenues, it has been the firm's flagship account throughout the agency's history.

The report this morning in The Daily Telegraph contrasts starkly with the news last month that M&C was the favourite agency to win the account, according to bookmaker Paddy Power. Other agencies on the shortlist are WPP's JWT, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Omnicom's DDB London.

The new favourite to win the BA business is believed to be BBH.

M&C Saatchi has handled BA since it opened its doors for business in 1995, when the Saatchi brothers took the account with them after being ousted from Saatchi & Saatchi.

When the review was announced this summer, the agency reacted by hiring well-respected creative Graham Fink.

The review is being overseen by BA head of global marketing Jill McDonald, together with head of marketing for UK and Ireland, Jayne O'Brien.

However, sources have indicated that chief executive Willie Walsh, who joined BA from Aer Lingus earlier this year, has instigated the review as part of a drive to cut costs across the business as it prepares to move its hub to Heathrow's Terminal Five.

BA's "The world's favourite airline" slogan was coined while the account was at Saatchi & Saatchi. However, it dropped the line in 1999. In 2004, the airline adopted "The way to fly" as its strapline.

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