NEWS: Advertising Principles picks up first Airtours branding initiative

Airtours, the UK’s second-largest holiday company, has chosen Advertising Principles to handle the creative work on its pounds 7 million account as a prelude to its first major brand-building campaign.

Airtours, the UK’s second-largest holiday company, has chosen

Advertising Principles to handle the creative work on its pounds 7

million account as a prelude to its first major brand-building campaign.



The Leeds-based agency withstood challenges from BDH in Manchester and

Lowe Howard-Spink to record the biggest account win in its ten-year

history. Media will remain with the Media Centre.



Advertising Principles was being briefed this week about Airtours’ plans

for the next year, which are likely to include a return to TV.



The movement of Airtours’ creative account out of the Manchester agency,

Sass Panayi, was precipitated by the appointment earlier this year of

Richard Carrick, the former Granada leisure group marketer, as marketing

director.



Carrick commented: ‘This is a key time for the travel industry and, as

we become more customer-focused and marketing-led, we need an agency

that understands the changes in the marketplace and can help us to

develop our brand position.’



The agency switch is expected to result in a move away from what has

been largely tactical advertising.



Phil Hesketh, the Advertising Principles director, commented: ‘We’ve

presented a number of creative routes that focus on Airtours’ quality

and innovation.’



Detailed plans are yet to be finalised. However, Hesketh said the idea

was to develop Airtours’ ‘sun, sand and sea’ reputation and focus on the

breadth of its offering, including destinations such as Australia and

the Far East.



Airtours has been suffering in a highly competitive market, which saw

summer bookings fall 24 per cent to the start of April. However, Hesketh

said: ‘The market is picking up and Airtours is a very profitable

company.’



Airtours has had a series of eventful relationships with agencies,

mainly because of its reputation for trying to screw down margins. In

the early 90s it fell out with Bartle Bogle Hegarty after only a few

weeks because of a disagreement over payments.



‘Airtours has driven a hard bargain - but so does everybody else,’

Hesketh said. ‘We wouldn’t have taken the business if we couldn’t make a

decent profit from it.’



The Airtours win brings the agency’s claimed billings to more than

pounds 40 million and complements its other leisure accounts, which

include Wallace Arnold and the Light-water Valley theme park.