The appointment follows a lengthy review process that had begun in October last year and had included most of the big global advertising networks. M&C Saatchi’s winning of the account follows on the heels of MediaCom and LBi landing the airline’s global media briefs, with MediaCom tasked with handling above-the-line media planning and buying while LBi will take care of digital media strategy, search and affiliate marketing.
The incumbent on the advertising account was TBWA, which, along with sister Omnicom agency OMD, had won the business when Etihad last reviewed its creative and media accounts in 2005.
Etihad confirmed the appointment of M&C Saatchi, but declined to comment further, stating only that an official announcement would be made in the coming week.
The national carrier had co-ordinated the review from its headquarters in Abu Dhabi and it is understood that the account will be handled by M&C Saatchi out of London, although the agency does have regional representation in Beirut. It is not yet known whether the agency will set up an office in the UAE capital. Its belief is to have “as few offices as necessary rather than as many as possible”. Other regional accounts, such as the Bahrain Economic Development Board, had been handled by M&C Saatchi Export, which is headed up by CEO David Glass.
M&C Saatchi was formed in 1995 by Maurice and Charles Saatchi (Iraqi Jewish émigrés from Baghdad) following an acrimonious boadroom coup at Saatchi & Saatchi, the agency they had established in 1970. The agency’s Beirut operation launched in April 2010.