Long Haymes Carr won Midway Airlines' advertising account on the strength of its account planning and strategic services.
"The client made it clear that this was not a creative review," said LHC chairman Steve Zades. "They wantedour best thinking in terms of brand-planning strategies."
The Winston-Salem, N.C., shop secured the more than $5 million business after an eight-week review that included Trone Advertising in High Point, N.C., and Howard, Merrell & Partners in Raleigh, N.C.
The agency's efforts for the regional carrier essentially will run counter to strategies typically developed for national carriers like Delta Air Lines, increasingly plagued by labor difficulties, mounting airport delays and consumer dissatisfaction.
"Our research tells us travelers prefer Midway," said Neil Saunders, LHC executive vice president and director of strategic services. "The problem is they're not telling people about it. Our job is to build back that bridge, so people understand what a great airline Midway is."
That means increasing "load factors, i.e., driving traffic, particularly the so-called infrequent business traveler," to the airline's ticket counters. There, according to Saunders, they can take advantage of a modern fleet to be transported "relaxed and ready to do business."
The airline, despite a healthy balance sheet, has hit some turbulence recently. As a result, it ditched Raleigh's McKinney & Silver in 1999, then handed off its marketing duties to Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy in Charlotte, N.C.
LKM, in turn, resigned the business last fall in a fierce disagreement over which direction Midway's advertising should take. Agency sources at the time said the airline was looking for short-term retail ads over longer term marketing initiatives, a claim Zades denied.
The addition of Midway returns LHC to a client category. Its last airline business was the ill-fated Kiwi.
Midway relocated to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., from Chicago in 1995.