The “world’s favourite airline” could become Britain’s most sought-after account. J. Walter Thompson’s London office is leading the pack of agencies who sense an opening in a door" data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

Pitching on tarmac By Cathy Taylo

The “world’s favourite airline” could become Britain’s most sought-after account. J. Walter Thompson’s London office is leading the pack of agencies who sense an opening in a door

So far, JWT has been unable to get a firm foothold on the $55-60 million global account, but for a variety of reasons the once sacred British Air/Saatchi relationship is more vulnerable to poaching than it has ever been. The biggest rupture in the account occurred earlier this month with the resignation of British Air chairman and Margaret Thatcher crony Lord King. King’s resignation came about after British Airways had to pay Virgin Atlantic a settlement following allegations that it had played numerous corporate “dirty tricks” on its rival. Saatchi’s “umbilical cord” to King took hold in 1982, when then PM Thatcher gave the account to Saatchi as a personal favor for its work in helping her come to power.
On the ad side, a series of mishaps have strained the relationship. Cost overruns on the airline’s latest commercial, “Feeling Good,” has caused friction. Director Tony Kaye, who shot the spot, is seeking approximately $1 million in damages from Saatchi, over the fact that the agency hasn’t paid him for work done on the commercial, and also over the shop’s allegations that Kaye kept shooting footage after he had been told to stop because of rising costs. Other production houses had turned the job down because they felt it was impossible to achieve the desired effects within the budget.
More recently, industry observers have noticed a remarkable similarity between an ad done last year by JWT/Manchester (U.K.) for that city’s airport and a current spot for British Airways by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)