British Airways - BBH Triumphs!

12 October 2005

Bartle Bogle Hegarty has toppled the Saatchi brothers' twenty-three year reign over British Airways' £60 million ($105m; €87m) global business, and on Tuesday uncorked the Dom Perignon.

Unlike a similar celebration in 1995, yesterday's party was not premature. Ten years ago, when BA last reviewed the account, word within BA and around adland's parish pump was that BBH had won the day.

But at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute the Saatchis held onto the business by the skin of their teeth - after, so legend has it, brother Maurice bestrode the corridors of political patronage with the safety-catch of his emotive powers switched to the 'off' position.

No last minute U-turn this time, however. BBH was yesterday officially declared the favourite agency of the world's favourite airline and will take over the account as of November 15.

BA commercial director Martin George attributed BBH's victory to its "outstanding insight, creative ability and proven track record of delivering effective advertising".

Of BA's twenty-three year relationship with the Saatchi brothers, George acknowledged that their agencies had produced a number of memorable campaigns. But: "We must look to the future now and adapt to the changing environment in which we operate and the needs of our business."

The account review, reportedly price-led, was instigated by the arrival of cost-cutting enthusiast Willie Walsh as BA's chief executive.

[Walsh's cost-parsimony is nothing new. Since the reign of Lord King in the early 80s, BA's negotiating culture has never been anything other than "price led" - as agencies and other suppliers will attest.]

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff