JetBlue Nears Decision in Interactive Review

NEW YORK JetBlue Airways is in the final stages of a review that will determine which interactive shop will redesign its Web site, sources said.

The two finalists, Merkley Newman Harty Interactive and Sapient, recently presented creative and strategic ideas to the discount airline, sources said.

The initial field of contenders included New York shops Organic, Accenture, Avenue A, Antennae Design, Abstract Edge, Blast Radius and possible others, sources said. The budget for the assignment was undisclosed.

MNHi parent Omnicom’s Merkley Newman Harty & Partners in New York helped launch the JetBlue brand about three years ago with ads that addressed travelers’ general hostility toward the air travel industry. One ad, for instance, featured a homely man saying, “A new airline that’s cheap and comfortable? Sure, and I’m the tooth fairy.” All ads carried the tagline, “JetBlue Airways. Unbelievable.”

MNHi has done some Web work for the Forest Hills, N.Y.-based client in the past. According to Sapient’s Web site, the Cambridge, Mass.-based digital shop has worked on American Airlines and United Airlines. MNHi referred calls to the client; Sapient did not return calls.

Christian Rishel, director of interactive marketing for JetBlue, is steering the review, which began about a month ago, sources said. Rishel could not be reached.

JetBlue spent $17 million on measured media in 2002, up 50 percent from the year prior, according to CMR. One recent TV spot from The Ad Store in New York poses the question, “How cool would it be if everything were run like JetBlue?” It then shows a JetBlue flight crew distributing pillows, pouring coffee and passing out peanuts on a New York subway car as they dance to “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” The voiceover says, “With new planes, leather seats and DirecTV, we’re making the world a better place, one flight at a time.”