Continental Air Calls Review

By Glen Fest and Katy Eckmann

DALLAS–Continental Airlines, following a route traveled by a number of competitors lately, including United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, has launched a global review.

Sarah Anthony, a representative for the Houston-based airline, confirmed the review last week. ‘What we’re doing is considering whether to consolidate some or all of our agency relationships,’ said Anthony, who declined to identify contenders.

The review for Continental’s estimated $50 million worth of assignments includes advertising and marketing in the U.S. and abroad. A decision is due by mid-summer.

The Richards Group in Dallas, which handles Continental’s $30 million U.S. advertising account, will defend its portion of the business. ‘They’ve been up front with us, and we’re working with them through this process,’ said agency principal Brad Todd.

Other agencies that work for Continental include C-E Communications in Warren, Mich., which promotes its frequent flyer program, and del Rivero Messianu Advertising in Coral Gables, Fla.

The client, the nation’s fifth-largest airline, sent letters to eight shops last week asking if they are interested in working with Continental. Sources said those agencies are: Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide; Ammirati Puris Lintas; N.W. Ayer & Partners; Grey Advertising; Foote, Cone & Belding; J. Walter Thompson; TBWA Chiat/Day; and Campbell-Ewald Advertising in Warren, Mich., sister shop of C-E Communications.

Sources noted that two agencies that were overlooked, Leo Burnett and BBDO, at least for now, each have category experience and were contenders in recent airline reviews.

Richards’ hold on the business has been weakening, said sources. Ayer, for example, recently won an assignment from Continental.–with Michael McCarthy and Tanya Gazdik

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