United Airlines taps Carat, Merkle-led Dentsu team for global media

Wunderman will retain production, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

United Airlines has appointed a Carat and Merkle-led Dentsu Aegis Network team to handle global media, following a competitive review, according industry insiders with knowledge of the matter.

WPP has lost social and media responsibilities, but retain production duties – which will be looked after by Wunderman. The overall account was worth north of $10 million, Campaign has learned.

"We’re excited to align our work with Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), the parent network of United’s creative agency, mcgarrybowen, for many of our marketing functions, including global media and social media, alongside WPP through Wunderman in Chicago and Buenos Aires," said Mark Krolick, vice president of marketing at United Airlines, in an emailed statement. 

He added: "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. WPP and the agencies within have been instrumental in their support of United and will continue in our restructured agency partnerships."

The win is a big coup for Dentsu, which already handles global creative for United Airlines. The holding company also won Intel’s global media business earlier this week.

"We’re very proud to have secured the role as the media AOR partner for United Airlines. 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. The multi-disciplinary ‘Alliance@DAN’ is designed to deliver agile, personalized solutions necessary to help United Airlines win, keep and grow their best customers," said Nick Brien, CEO, Americas, Dentsu Aegis Network, in a statement.

Wunderman North America CEO Seth Solomons also told Campaign in a statement that the agency is "proud of the work we do with United and remain focused and excited about our partnership."

People with knowledge of the matter say the review is largely procurement-led.United Airlines has been ramping up its in-house capabilities around video, according to a report from Digiday in February. The report states that the in-housing move allows United to move faster and be more cost efficient.

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