McCann To Defend American Airlines in Review

By Patrick Coffee 

More than three years ago, Victors & Spoils chief John Winsor wrote an “open letter” to American Airlines after it filed for bankruptcy, arguing that his agency could transcend the existing model via crowdsourcing just as American sought a way to make its old-school business profitable again.

The client did not bite.

Now, though, it seems American is ready to review its options. Late yesterday AdAge reported that the company will launch a global review of its ad business, which has been with McCann Erickson for more than two decades.

Like the recent Olive Garden review announcement, this one marks the end of an era of sorts, though a change may have been expected after American merged with U.S. Airways in 2013. The two companies are still completing the operational aspects of their union. (U.S. Airways has long been a client of Moses, Inc., which recently made a related case study video.)

A McCann spokesperson told AdAge:

“We remain deeply committed to American Airlines here and globally and will participate in the review.”

American released a far longer statement which didn’t quite address the issue of how the two brands–now effectively one and the same–will handle their respective marketing efforts moving forward. From the quote:

“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.

We have had a partnership with TM and McCann Worldgroup for more than 20 years, and value all of the great work they have done worldwide for American Airlines. McCann and its office in Dallas, TM Advertising, continues to be an excellent global partner for American, helping us with the recent ‘Going for Great’ campaign launched in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Europe, Asia and Latin America with local agency teams engaged on our business.”

Certainly sounds like the client is ready for another change after its agencies tried to refresh its brand in different ways throughout the years. In 2008, TM ran a campaign under the tag “We Know Why You Fly,” which did not impress your friendly neighborhood SuperSpy. (In other news, TM has yet to name a new CCO after the late 2014 departure of Bill Oakley.)

American definitely wants to keep things topical as the most recent headlines regarding the company concerned its social media team’s troll-ready defense of a newly rainbow-colored logo celebrating the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

The airline spent considerably less money on marketing in 2014 than in 2013, but that’s understandable given the complexities of the U.S. Airways merger.

TM’s most recent ad for American, noted in the client’s quote, debuted earlier this year: