Orbitz Names CMO

Online travel service Orbitz, which has made several agency shifts of late, today made an internal move, naming Chris Orton chief marketing officer.
Orton (pictured) joins from eBay, where he had been senior director of Internet marketing.
The company’s last CMO was Jeff Davidoff, who left Orbitz about a year ago. Shortly after his departure, Orbitz hired Deborah Italiano as vp, brand marketing; she will now report to Orton and continue to lead brand efforts.
Orbitz’s media chores are currently in play, following the client’s split with Mullen’s MediaHub in Boston. That IPG-owned agency parted with the brand in May to take on the JetBlue account.
Of the media competition, a client rep said: “We are not accepting outside proposals for that review. We are not releasing the names of the firms participating.”
Orbitz spent $40 million on ads in 2009, down from $60 million in ’08, excluding online outlays, per Nielsen.
The company in March selected Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York as its lead creative agency. Just a few months earlier, that assignment had moved from Mullen to independent Trailer Park.
Orbitz suffered a 15 percent dip in revenue to $738 million in 2009, compared to the previous year. Over the same stretch, the company lost $337 million, about $38 million more than it lost in ’08. That performance is associated with Orbitz removing its booking fees for air travel and reducing its hotel fees. The company rep said, “The removal of those fees helped propel our hotel room nights booked and transactions in 2009.”

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.