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After Working With the Same Agency Since 1981, American Airlines Launches Global Review

Creative and media are up for grabs

American's agency review comes as the airline prepares to absorb US Airways' brand. Photo: Getty Images

American Airlines' global creative and media accounts are up for review as the marketer prepares to retire the US Airways brand after acquiring the rival carrier.

American's longtime agencies McCann Erickson, New York, and its affiliate in Dallas, TM Advertising, will defend the creative business. Fellow Interpublic agencies like UM handle American's media internationally and TM works on the airline's U.S. media. Those incumbents will also participate in the review, which AAR Partners is managing. A decision is expected by early October.

Global media spending is estimated at $60 million. In the U.S. alone, American Airlines spent just under $30 million in media last year, according to Kantar Media.

TM has worked with American on domestic business since 1981 and operated as part of the McCann Erickson network since being acquired in 2001. In 2002, McCann won American's overseas business, which had been with DDB.

American and U.S. Airways announced plans to merge in 2013, making them the latest airlines to team up in a wave of industry consolidation that has seen America's four largest carriers—American, United, Delta and Southwest—take control of over three-quarters of domestic air business. While US Airways and American have operated as a single carrier since early April, this week American said Oct. 17 will be US Airways' final day of operations under that brand identity.

In a statement, the company explained the review decision:

"As part of a broader objective since we entered our merger with US Airways, we have begun to do our due diligence to evaluate all major partners to ensure we are receiving competitive and effective service provision," according to American. "The competitive landscape of our industry and the advertising industry has changed since the last time we put our business out for bid. We want to ensure we align ourselves with the right agency who understands our goals as the world's largest airline and can provide the best resources and services to meet our needs globally."

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