American Airlines Expands Working Relationship With McCann Worldgroup

Change comes as carrier, in bankruptcy, will need to show it's still viable

American Airlines is restructuring its working relationship with McCann Worldgroup. The Interpublic Group company is setting up a global hub in Dallas near the Fort Worth-based carrier, now in the process of Chapter 11 restructuring.

While American Airlines says the shift is a natural evolution of where its marketing communications strategy is headed, as it adds more social and digital elements, it also reflects the need for greater resources when the airline emerges from bankruptcy and needs to aggressively convey a message of ongoing viability.

New York-based Daryl Lee, who was named McCann Worldgroup chief integration officer last year, will now partner with Bill Miller, the Worldgroup evp, global business leader in Dallas who has been running the American Airlines business. In addition, Vann Graves, an executive creative director at McCann Erickson in New York, has been given responsibility as the global ecd on the account, working with teams in New York, Dallas and London.

Dallas-based TM Advertising, which has worked with American Airlines on domestic business since 1981 and has operated as part of the McCann Erickson network since being acquired in 2001, will continue to work with the carrier under the direction of the new McCann global hub. (In 2003 McCann won American Airlines' global business, which had been with DDB.)

As part of the agency’s restructured working arrangement with American Airlines, McCann Erickson’s London and Manchester offices will have more involvement in the U.K. Worldgroup will also add a New York-based McCann performance analytics team to the business and create a Dallas-based production operation. Worldgroup also will initiate new projects to involve its units like digital and direct company MRM, promotional marketing arm Momentum and Hollywood PR powerbrokers PMK-BNC.

“McCann Worldgroup has deep resources in scale and scope,” said Rick Wilbins, managing director, advertising, American Airlines. “This is in recognition that the relationship is better suited to McCann Worldgroup than just parts of it.”

Wilbins declined to comment on specific spending levels during the company’s current bankruptcy reorganization other than to say American Airlines hasn’t changed anything in its marketing communications and continues with a “full mix” of initiatives, including TV.

McCann already operated global hubs for other multinational clients like MasterCard, Intel, General Mills and L’Oréal.