Etihad calls global media review

Etihad Airways has called a review of its global media planning and buying account.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline is consolidating its media business, with the new brief to not only cover that of Etihad, but also its partner airlines, including Alitalia, airberlin and Air Serbia.

Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways’ senior vice president of marketing, confirmed the review and said: “We have put a tender out for the media planning and buying for the major Etihad Airways Partner airlines. Major global media agency groups are involved. The appointment of a world class global media planning partner is expected to be announced by the end of May.”

MediaCom, which is participating in the review, is the incumbent on the account and has held the business since January 2012, when LBi was also handed part of the airline’s business. WPP agency MediaCom currently handles above-the-line media planning and buying for Etihad only, while LBi takes care of digital media strategy, search and affiliate marketing. LBi is unaffected by the review.

The previous incumbent on the media buying account had been OMD, which had held the business from 2005 until 2012. The airline’s creative account is held by M&C Saatchi, which is also unaffected by the review.

Etihad bought 49 per cent of loss-making Italian airline Alitalia in August last year, giving the UAE’s flag carrier access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market and 25 million passengers. The purchase was part of Etihad’s strategy to build on organic growth rates via targeted investments.

Talking to Economic Review last year, James Hogan, the airline’s CEO, said: “Towards the end of 2011, Etihad Airways implemented an exciting new strategy to build on its industry-leading organic growth rates, with targeted minority investments in airline partners across the world. In doing so, we have created an alliance of network partners to build global networks, passenger and cargo volumes, and other revenue streams, while sharing business and cost synergies that are driving benefits straight to the bottom line.”