Etihad Airways has selected independent agency Crossmedia as its global agency of record, effective immediately, after a review.
Starcom had been global media AOR for the national airline of the United Arab Emirates since July 2015. A spokeswoman for Starcom declined to comment, but one person close to the review said the Publicis Groupe-owned agency did not compete to defend.
It is not clear which other agencies participated.
Crossmedia will take over the global account across all brands, including Etihad Holidays and Etihad Guest, and will focus on UAE capital Abu Dhabi as a destination. The airline lists its global marketing spend at $30 million. R3 co-founder and principal Greg Paull estimated that figure is closer to $80 million worldwide.
Crossmedia said its “fresh approach to data-driven planning and execution” and “rigorous approach to operational transparency” won the agency the account.
“With the myriad of choices available to consumers, we have to connect with them at the moments that matter most,” Ryan Dunlap, head of customer engagement at Etihad Airways, said in a statement. “We believe we’ve found a valuable partner with that same mindset in Crossmedia, who—as a boutique agency with global scale—can help us achieve our ambition in this space.”
Crossmedia Worldwide CEO Martin Albrecht said, “The world is changing, and clients are now demanding digital and analytical skills at global scale and at speed. Having the trust of such a demanding client is further proof for our internationalization strategy.”
The win comes as Crossmedia seeks to strengthen its global position. After opening a London office in September 2017, the independent agency has established dedicated international teams there and in Düsseldorf.
While the Etihad Airways account will be headed by the London team led by managing director Tony Williams and business director Dan Jennings, the Düsseldorf hub will manage programmatic capabilities through its proprietary Nucleus offering. The agency will also handle local planning with help from Crossmedia’s WorkNet, which is comprised of a group of local independent agencies overseen by the London team.
Those independent agencies include United Arab Emirates’ Team Red Dot, China’s WE Marketing and Australia’s Hyland Media.