British Airways Appoints PS&L

British Airways has awarded its Latin American marketing account to Publicis Sanchez & Levitan.

The Miami shop is the Hispanic marketing unit for Publicis in the U.S.

The agency, which became part of the $16 billion Publicis network in March, won the estimated $5-7 million business after a review against undisclosed Hispanic shops.

The win marks the first time the airline has appointed a lead agency to target Latin American markets. In the past, advertising was divided among worldwide lead agency M&C Saatchi in London and a number of Publicis’ shops in South America.

“We are the coordinating agency for British Airways’ marketing communications in Argentina, Bra-zil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela,” said PS&L chief executive officer Aida Levitan. “We’ll be providing advertising, plus below-the-line services like direct marketing in English, Spanish and Portuguese.”

A print, cable television and direct marketing campaign is scheduled to kick off later this summer. One of the agency’s initial assignments will be supporting the launch of British Airways’ new Club World business class seating in the region.

Publicis, with its array of resources, has already begun to impact Sanchez & Levitan’s bottom line. The shop, according to Levitan, won four new accounts over the last few months—British Airways, a financial services company attempting to make inroads into the booming Hispanic market and two consumer packaged-goods accounts.

“With the rising economic influence of Hispanic consumers throughout the Americas,” said agency co-chairman Fausto San-chez, “it is more important than ever to be able to reach the customer with messages that are culturally relevant and strategically consistent.”

The agency has also been working with Publicis’ Dialog unit on public relations and media training assignments in English and Spanish, as well as the network’s promotions arm, Frankel & Co.

“What Publicis has given us is the opportunity to get in the door to pitch very important brands,” said Levitan, who had spent years trying to forge a partnership with Hispanic agencies in California, Texas and Florida.

“It’s very difficult for an independent Hispanic agency to grow as fast as it would like,” she said. “Clients typically find it easier to give their business to a network with a Spanish division.”