Burnett Team Had Only 1 United Vet
CHICAGO–Leo Burnett brought one creative idea to its pitch for Delta Air Lines and that was all it needed to land the $100 million account.
The winning effort will attempt to “rebuild the relationship between the airline and consumers,” said Lisa Bennett, evp and managing creative director. Delta had by far the worst record for overbooking its flights in 1999’s second quarter. Also, Delta’s “On top of the world” campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi was seen as not reflecting Delta CEO Leo Mullin’s focus on improving service. “You can’t fix it with art direction. It’s much more fundamental than that,” a source said.
Bennett led the charge along with chief creative officer Cheryl Berman and North American president Linda Wolf. No songs or jingles were proposed, as Burnett famously did with “Rhapsody in Blue” for United Airlines. Bennett declined further comment.
Burnett’s win over incumbent Saatchi, Grey Advertising and TBWA Worldwide comes three years after it was dumped by 31-year client United, which hired Fallon McElligott.
Burnett did not cite United during its two-hour pitch and its team included only one airline veteran, executive vice president and managing account director Jim Thompson. “This is a different company, we wanted a fresh approach,” Bennett explained.
Only two creative teams developed work, as opposed to the five or six that might typically be used for a big pitch. Burnett’s Starcom will add media planning; buying remains at Zenith Media in New York.
New management at Delta signalled Saatchi’s end. Mullin was also familiar with Burnett from his days as an executive with First Chicago and Unicorp. in Chicago.
Saatchi took the loss philosophically. “It’s the story of a new [management] team wanting a new agency,” said Jennifer Laing, the agency’s North American CEO. Layoffs at Saatchi are not expected, she said.
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