United Airlines Taps Starcom

NEW YORK United Airlines said it has awarded media chores on its global ad account to Publicis Groupe’s Starcom following a review.

The Chicago-based shop bested Omnicom Group’s OMD and WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia, both in New York. The latter has handled the bulk of the business.

Publicis’ Fallon in Minneapolis has worked on United’s U.S. planning and print media, but did not defend. Fallon also handles United’s creative assignment, which was not in review.

The client spent $80 million on domestic ads in 2005 and $55 million in 2006, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Global ad spending in 2007 is likely to exceed $100 million, sources said.

The win could be particularly significant for Starcom, which handled media chores on the account for years when creative was developed at sibling shop Leo Burnett. Burnett lost the creative account to Fallon after a review 10 years ago.

“We look forward to partnering with Starcom to help us elevate the overall effectiveness of our media campaigns,” said Dennis Cary, United’s svp, marketing, in a statement. “We are excited about the new efficiencies United will gain and the wealth of expertise that Starcom delivers through its strategic planning process and innovative approach to buying and leveraging media.”

“United is a brand with a strong position and an important part of people’s lifestyles, and Starcom is proud to partner with United,” said Starcom USA CEO John Muszynski.