Money ‘Differences’ Abort Mexicana, McCann Takeoff

MEXICO CITY – It’s the account that can’t get off the ground. Mexicana Airlines is making agency rounds again, five months after hiring McCann-Erickson/L.A., who as it turns out, wasn’t hired after all. Oddly enough, Mexicana’s back knocking on J. Walter Thompson’s door, the agency the financially-troubled carrier fired last summer.
‘We couldn’t settle an arrangement with McCann-Erickson,’ said Eduardo Oliverez, Mexicana’s director of marketing. ‘There were a few differences in the contract that we could not solve. Right now, we are talking with J. Walter Thompson and with a few more agencies. But we haven’t cancelled our conversation with McCann.’
The ‘few differences,’ according to a number of sources, boil down to an estimated $1.5-million letter of credit McCann requested because, the sources said, Mexicana owes JWT about $2 million.
McCann/L.A. managing director Rob McKinley declined comment on the specifics of the negotiations. ‘We’re still very interested in the business,’ he said.
McCann’s not the only shop that’s been cautious about this account. Before former McCann/L.A. managing director Rona Pashkin-Boyer acknowledged winning the business back in August, published reports credited DMB&B/N.Y. with the win. It turns out that DMB&B, too, was unable to work out a contract.
Getting payment from Mexicana has traditionally been difficult. ‘To get the money, you literally had to go to Mexico to pick it up,’ said one source familiar with the account when it was at Dailey in the ’70s.
Mexicana, now spending about $5 million on advertising, was at one point Mexico’s No. 1 airline. The company’s sales have tumbled due to competition from Aero Mexico and international airlines.
JWT may have less than the other agencies to lose, considering the money owed and the fact JWT would like to rebuild in L.A. Ironically, JWT/N.Y. just split with Northwest Airlines over compensation problems.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)