One of Havas’s flagship media accounts, Emirates Airline, is currently up for pitch. Havas has handled Emirates’ media worldwide for six years now. The account was last up for review three years ago, but the Dubai-based carrier didn’t put the contract out to an open pitch.
Dany Naaman, CEO of Havas Middle East, says that Havas and Emirates have both changed since his agency won the contract back in 2013.
“Our business has evolved a lot,” he says. “We have evolved a lot with Emirates. So if you look at the request for proposal, the RFP that you have today has nothing to do with the RFP that we pitched for six years ago. All the areas that you need to develop, the solution that you want to provide, and the thinking that goes on behind it, everything has changed. It’s obvious that it is getting more and more complicated, and Emirates has the right to see if we are the right partner and if we continue to deliver the solutions that are relevant in the marketing realm.”
The airline’s media requirements have become
a lot more complicated and more performance-based than traditional brand-building.
“You have a lot of answers to provide on performance solutions. Initially, Emirates was all about brands,” says Naaman. “It’s evolving. They are under pressure as well. I think Emirates is
not delivering the same profit that they used to deliver before, so they are transforming, they are reviewing their model.”
Emirates has the right to see if Havas is the right partner, and to weigh its options as it does that,
“They hear the story from one side and probably today they want to hear different stories,” he says.
Naaman says one of Havas’s strengths on
the Emirates account has been that it is flexible across markets.
“We have a world-class team operating in markets and delivering on the requirements of the client, that is flexible and adaptable, and we have proved that we have been able to change, adapt and continue to provide them with relevant solutions over the past six years,” he says. “I don’t think this is going to change; we will continue to provide them best-in-class services.”
He adds: “I think this has helped us too to get more dynamic, more involved in terms of solutions in the markets.” It was a transformative win, and that is how agencies evolve along with their clients. “It is very difficult to transform your legacy clients,” he says.
With his typical frankness, Naaman says he will do what has to be done if his agency doesn’t retain the airline’s business.
“Every business looks at the bottom line at the end of the day, and if you need to review and restructure accordingly you will have to do that, whether you like it or not,” he says. “Now, the way you do it can be different from one business to another, but in the case of Emirates, we have our best talent servicing this business, so we will definitely find ways to keep our best talent within the organisation. Probably at the expense of other talent.”