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Singapore Airlines keeps faith with TBWA as advertising contract is extended beyond 2017

SIA has once more selected TBWA

SIA has selected TBWA for at least another two years

Singapore Airlines, one of Asia’s most coveted advertisers, has renewed its contract with creative agency TBWA Worldwide without a pitch, bringing an end to speculation that the account would be reviewed, Mumbrella can reveal.

TBWA is to handle Singapore Airlines’ global advertising business beyond 2017, although no further details have been shared. SIA told Mumbrella in a statement: “We can share that TBWA remains our creative agency, however we are unable to disclose details of the agreement as it is confidential.” The account will continue to be run from Singapore.

TBWA won the Singapore Airlines business after one of the most hotly contested pitches in recent memory in Singapore in 2007. Then, the agency was tasked to position Singapore Airlines as ‘The brand for air travel now, and for the next 10 years’ using the long-running slogan ‘A great way to fly’.

TBWA famously saw off competition in a final round of pitching from Publicis Worldwide and Omnicom sibling DDB. Some of TBWA’s pitch-winning team have since moved to agencies against which TBWA competed seven years ago, which has fuelled rumours that the account may move.

Lou dela Pena, who at one time ran the SIA business at TBWA, joined Publicis as Singapore CEO in December last year. Jeff Cheong, who provided TBWA with the digital smarts to help land the SIA account when he was digital creative director there, is now Asia president of DDB’s digital arm, Tribal Worldwide.

However, Singapore Airlines is not known to be a client that likes to change agencies. TBWA is only the second creative agency the conservative carrier has used in more than four decades.

Singapore Airlines’ agency of 35 years was Batey Ads, which helped build the carrier into a revered global brand through the iconic work of founder Ian Batey, who created the Singapore Girl. It was a shock to the market when Batey Ads was dropped from the pitch shortlist in 2007, such was the connection between agency and client. Batey Ads struggled in the years since, until it was folded into WPP sister agency Grey in 2009.

TBWA’s most recent campaign for Singapore Airlines, called ‘The lengths we go to’ was released in September last year. The campaign showed the Singapore Girl travelling the world to source the best for its customers.

Directed by John S Park, the first of three films, titled ‘Understanding your needs’, was shot in the Southeastern China province of Fujian and featured the Singapore Girl hunting for the best ingredients for SIA’s meals.

The second, called ‘Creating around you’, was shot in Scotland and followed the Singapore girl as she searched for the softest leather for the plane’s décor.

A third film, this time shot in Venice, shows the lengths the airline goes to to select the best inflight entertainment.

The campaign also included a film that revealed the making of the three brands videos.

Singapore Airlines’ most high-profile marketing move in recent months was to become the headline sponsor for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, replacing SingTel in what has proved to be a challenging year for the airline.

Source: The company

Source: The company

Singapore Airlines reported a 56 per cent fall in profit, largely due to losses at subsidiary Tiger Airways but also from lower passenger yields, for the first half of this year.

The company has also taken some hits to its image. Singapore Airlines faced criticism in the wake of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for appearing to use the disaster as a PR stunt to get one up on its local rival carrier. The airline posted on its Facebook page that it was not using airspace in Ukraine, where MH17 was shot down. After much criticism in social media, the airline apologised and posted its condolences to the families of those killed on the MAS jet.

Just over a year ago, Singapore Airlines was on the receiving end of a searching critique by adman turned consultant Calvin Soh, who pitched for the airline during his time as Asia co-chairman of Publicis. Soh argued that SIA’s standards have not kept up with consumer expectations.

The news of TBWA’s re-appointment emerges less than a year after Singapore Airlines appointed Dentsu Möbius as its first social media agency after a ten-agency pitch that included TBWA’s digital arm, Digital Arts Network.

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