American Targets Black Market

Airline Begins National Search for First African American Shop
DALLAS–American Airlines has initiated a national review for an African American agency of record to direct a new marketing initiative to the black community.
“This will probably be one ofthe most significant pieces of business that an African American agency will get in years. It will
be a highly coveted account,” said Larry Powell, a member of the airline’s advisory search committee.
American, the nation’s second-largest carrier behind United Airlines, previously targeted the African American community through the placement of general market print advertising in black interest magazines. Those ads were developed by American’s lead agency, Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas.
Said American spokesman Tim Smith, “We were reaching out to some of the magazines and other vehicles in the African American community, but we wanted to get a little more specialized in the ads themselves.”
“As we become more of a worldwide airline and the world becomes more diverse in every place we operate, it makes good business sense . . . to move in this direction,” Smith said.
To assist in managing the review, Fort Worth, Texas-based American has assembled an advisory team led by Werner Scott of Advantage Marketing Group, an Irving-based agency that has worked with the airline on a project basis for several years. Other Dallas-area agencies involved include ReeseRoss, a marketing communications company, and Larry Powell & Associates, a creative shop.
About 40 agencies have already signed up to participate in the review, said Powell. Field visits will be made to agencies in November and December, with a short list determined in January. A decision is expected the following month.
According to Scott, the winning agency will demonstrate a full menu of capabilities, “from superior media planning and buying to research, creative and account service, as well as an understanding of . . . the market from a strategic and tactical viewpoint.”
Annual billings were not disclosed. Industry observers said it could be comparable to the company’s Hispanic advertising budget, estimated at $4 million. That business was awarded to Zubi Advertising Services in Coral Gables, Fla., following a review in August.
American spent a total of $70.7 million on advertising last year and $36.8 million during January-June 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. K