TUI has (finally) appointed Leo Burnett as its creative agency of record across Europe, following a five-month creative pitch.
The pitch, which was announced in September last year, put the Publicis Groupe agency up against Fold7, TBWA\London, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and incumbent VMLY&R London.
Katie McAlister, chief marketing officer at TUI Group, told Campaign that Leo Burnett's remit will be “relaunching the brand into the post-Covid world”, ahead of the summer, when many holidaymakers are hoping to travel abroad.
“The work we'll do now is almost post-pandemic,” McAlister said.
“Everyone wants something to look forward to, and nothing beats a real holiday, so I think what we're doing is allowing people to dream about holidays.”
McAlister – who last year described TUI's search for an agency as "the most joyous" part of her job in 2020 – said that 82% of TUI customers maintain that they will be going on a holiday in 2021.
However, the travel industry's trials and tribulations in 2020 have led TUI to reduce its adspend, with McAlister maintaining that “flexibility is the key”.
She said: “Normally we'd have peak bookings right now – we don't because we're in lockdown, and so we adjust according to that."
TUI's media agency, Mediacom, "has been awesome", she added. "We've been able to be really flexible about how we advertise, where we advertise and what we advertise.”
In December, TUI repurposed an ad, “Nothing compares to a real holiday”, created by the brand’s in-house creative team, to highlight the joys of going abroad.
Charlie Rudd, chief executive of Leo Burnett, has hailed the use of Zoom throughout the pitch as it “cut out a lot of the peripheral stuff” from the process, allowing the agency to “focus on the meat of the conversation” instead.
Rudd told Campaign: “It was genuinely a joy – there was quite a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes, but the meetings themselves were very enjoyable.
“It is the weirdest thing that we've not actually sat in a room together, because it feels like we have many times, and so Katie thinks I'm a six-foot-six giant but actually I'm not.”
Describing the coronavirus pandemic as “the most incredible study of human psychology and resilience”, Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett, hailed hope as a driving force for the millions of people currently in lockdown across the UK.
“We are far moved on from the first lockdown – there is a vaccine, we're all waiting for the whole country to be vaccinated and made safe, and our job is to have our ear to the ground and provide some hope of joy to come,” Sobhani told Campaign.
She added: “I don't know what the answers are now – anyone who says they know the answers is lying – but we need to know that there is a time that we're going to be coming out of this.
“We have to dream and, by god, we have to be ready for some good news.”
Work is due to begin this month.