Qatar Airways has kicked off a regional search for a media agency.
The Doha-based aviation giant is understood to have approached a number of media networks to pitch for the media planning and buying brief for the Middle East and North Africa.
There is no incumbent agency on the account as the duties are currently handled in-house from the Qatari national carrier’s offices in Dubai.
The airline’s marketing department has sent out the requests for proposal, but the process remains at an early stage. It is understood that the final rounds will be held by the end of the year.
Of the networks invited to pitch, it is understood that Carat MENA, Group M siblings BPG Maxus and MEC, and UM MENA have accepted.
Neither Starcom nor Zenith will pitch due to holding conflicting airline accounts, but it remains unclear as to whether Publicis Media’s remaining agencies, Mediavest Spark or Optimedia Blue 449, will take part.
A spokeswoman for Qatar Airways declined to comment.
The Qatari government-owned airline last called a review of its global media account in 2011, reported to be worth $30 million at the time, though no agency is believed to have been chosen.
Prior to that, the account was said to be handled by QMedia (which was formed from an alliance between outdoor supplier JCDecaux and local Qatari partners) working with agencies on an ad hoc, market-by-market basis.
Qatar Airways’ senior vice president for marketing & corporate communications told Campaign earlier this year that the airline has a direct relationship with television stations, but works with agencies on print planning and buying.
Social media is also handled by the airline’s communications team.
Last year the carrier, which flies from Doha’s Hamad International Airport, launched a global re-brand after it ditched its long-term tagline “The world’s five-star airline” in favour of “Going places together”.
The accompanying campaign was overseen by J. Walter Thompson London, which won the global creative account in 2014, while roster agency 180 Amsterdam made the television commercial.