BOSTON Online travel service Orbitz.com has chosen Mullen to handle creative chores on its $50 million-plus ad account following a review, the agency has confirmed.
The Interpublic Group agency in Wenham, Mass., outpaced Omnicom Group's Element 79 in Chicago in the competition's final round.
The client had been with WPP Group's Young & Rubicam in Chicago.
An Orbitz representative had confirmed the company was splitting with Y&R and was considering the two shops [Adweek Online, Nov. 16].
Orbitz spent $50 million in measured media last year and slightly more than $50 million during the first nine months of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
A general desire to improve creative, coupled with management changes—such as Steven Barnhart's ascension in September as president—drove the decision to review.
Recent Orbitz commercials from Y&R have taken the form of campy game-show parodies.
This marks the third major online travel competition of the year, following reviews by Expedia.com and Priceline.com.
Expedia awarded its $170 million business to Doner in Southfield, Mich., while the $40 million-plus Priceline account went to Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in Sausalito, Calif. Both Doner and Butler are independents.
Mullen was a finalist for Expedia and competed in the Priceline review, though it withdrew before a decision was made in order to pursue Orbitz.
The agency has frequently scored this year with online clients, also adding work from Ancestry.com, Ask.com and Gifts.com.
Expedia leads the domestic online travel category in terms of gross domestic bookings, followed by Orbitz, Travelocity.com and Priceline.