United Airlines Hands Global Media Duties to Dentsu in Another Tough Turn for WPP

Wunderman retained production and CRM work

United Airlines is the world's third largest airline. - Credit by Getty Images

United Airlines announced it’s expanding its partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network, handing the holding company lead global media and social duties following a review launched this summer. Carat will run media planning and buying on the account, with Merkle handling targeted marketing and 360i running social media. The airline’s creative agency of record is Dentsu-owned mcgarrybowen, which retained the account in 2016 after a closed review.

“We’re very proud to have secured the role as the media AOR partner for United Airlines,” Dentsu Aegis Network Americas CEO Nick Brien said in a statement. “This global appointment expands on mcgarrybowen’s long-standing creative relationship with United Airlines across every marketing touchpoint from big creative ideas to social media to targeted media.”

Parties close to the matter told Adweek that United managed the review process internally and that mcgarrybowen played a critical role in bringing the client and its new media agency partners together.

United said WPP’s Wunderman (in Chicago and Buenos Aires), which was incumbent on the media planning and buying business, would remain on its roster but did not specify what portion of the account it would handle. According to Greg Paull, co-founder and principal of R3, Wunderman was retained for production and CRM work. Paull placed United’s annual media spend in the U.S. at $50 million, with another $30 million spent outside the country.

“With this new DAN partnership, we have the benefit of building on our already strong relationship with mcgarrybowen to collaborate with an integrated team of strategic, creative and data-driven minds to support the United brand and business in our goal of connecting people and uniting the world,” Mark Krolick, vp of marketing at United Airlines, said in a statement. He declined to comment past the release.

Krolick added that WPP and its agencies “have been instrumental in their support of United and will continue in our restructured agency partnerships.”

“We are proud of the work we do with United and remain focused and excited about our partnership,” Wunderman North America CEO Seth Solomons added in a statement.

The move marks another win for Dentsu—and another loss for WPP. Within the past week and a half, tech giant Intel sent its media account to Dentsu while Ford took its lead creative duties from WPP to BBDO and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) consolidated its media account with Publicis, stripping a portion of the account from GroupM.

Yesterday, American Express also consolidated its global media work with UM, ending a 20-year relationship with GroupM’s Mindshare.

@kitten_mouse lindsay.rittenhouse@adweek.com Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.
@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: October 11, 2018 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/united-airlines-hands-global-media-duties-to-dentsu-in-another-tough-turn-for-wpp/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT