Sapient Snags JetBlue Web Work

NEW YORK JetBlue Airways has selected Sapient for Web duties following a two-month review, sources said.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based digital shop bested Merkley Newman Harty Interactive in New York for the discount airline’s account, according to sources. The two finalists presented creative and strategic ideas to the Forest Hills, N.Y.-based client last month [IQ Daily Briefing, March 18].

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.

According to Sapient’s Web site, the shop has experience with clients in the travel sector, namely American Airlines and United Airlines. MNHi has done some Web work for JetBlue in the past, and its parent Omnicom Group’s Merkley Newman Harty & Partners helped launch the brand about three years ago with ads that addressed travelers’ general hostility toward the air travel industry. Neither agency could be reached.

JetBlue director of interactive marketing Christian Rishel, who managed the review, did not return calls.

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.”