Orbitz is reviewing its media assignment, seeking a replacement for Mullen’s MediaHub. The shop’s recent JetBlue Airways win created a conflict with the online travel service.
Mullen, a Boston-based unit of IPG, picked up the carrier’s creative and media chores earlier this month following a review. Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco was the runner-up.
Brian Hoyt, Orbitz’s vp, communications and government affairs, confirmed that a review has begun and that the conflict with JetBlue was the motivation for the search. He added that several undisclosed shops are contending and that the client is not open to unsolicited bids from additional agencies.
A Mullen rep had no comment.
JetBlue spent $9 million in measured media last year, less than half what it spent in ’08, per Nielsen.
Orbitz spent $40 million on ads in 2009, down from $60 million in ’08.
Despite the disparity in spending levels, Mullen pursued JetBlue because it believed the scope of work and chances for long-term growth were worth the risk, according to sources. In particular, JetBlue is open to adventurous creative and social-media outreach, and that profile plays to Mullen’s strengths better than the more traditionally minded Orbitz, for which the agency handles only media chores.
Mullen and Orbitz are parting on good terms, with the agency helping on the transition as much as possible, sources said.
The agency has been on a winning streak of late, also adding work in recent months from Zappos and Century 21, among others. That influx helped give Mullen the luxury of taking on JetBlue, even though it knew that doing so would cost it the larger Orbitz assignment.
Orbitz in March selected Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York as its lead creative agency.