United Meets With 2 Agencies

Fallon, Y&R Still Safe Despite Talks With BBDO and Organic
NEW YORK–United Airlines executives have met with officials from Omnicom-owned BBDO Worldwide and Organic, sources said.
The informal meetings took place about two weeks ago, a source said, and included top people from BBDO, New York, and John Kiker, United’s vice president of advertising and communications.
Executives from Organic in San Francisco, which specializes in electronic media and Web design, met separately with United, a source said. The source added that both meetings were set up by senior Omnicom executives.
In April, United asked officials who work with Fallon to fill out evaluation forms on the agency [Adweek, April 17]. The survey’s results were unknown, nor was it known if the evaluations were a precursor to the Omnicom meetings.
Neither agency nor client officials would comment. The Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based client is trying to acquire US Airways.
Fallon in Minneapolis has handled United’s estimated $70 million U.S. account since October 1996. Young & Rubicam, New York, won the estimated $50 million international business at the same time.
McCann-Erickson, New York, has had the $20 million US Airways account since 1990. In July, New York’s Marsteller Advertising was charged with introducing the consumer benefits of the proposed merger [Adweek, July 8], which would give United a reach into hubs such as Charlotte, N.C., and Philadelphia.
At the meetings, Kiker said he is satisfied with his agencies’ work and is not interested in moving the account, according to a source. Kiker is said to be “always open to meet with who is out there.”
United has stood by its agencies–including Fallon, which offered a revamped campaign in January following its failed “Rising” effort. –with Aaron Baar and Andrew McMain