WPP and Uncommon in dogfight over BA’s ad account

British Airways: coming in to land for either Uncommon or WPP
British Airways: coming in to land for either Uncommon or WPP

The independent agency's founders are up against a team from their former holding company for the airline's account.

The British Airways advertising pitch is down to a shoot-out between an integrated WPP team and Uncommon Creative Studio.

It is understood that Omnicom, Havas and Interpublic were all involved at an earlier stage. Publicis Groupe was shortlisted but withdrew from the process.

BA has narrowed the field to two very different propositions – the Ogilvy-led WPP team won BA's integrated account in May 2017, four months before Uncommon Creative Studio opened its doors.

Nils Leonard, Lucy Jameson and Natalie Graeme founded Uncommon Creative Studio in September 2017 after meeting at the WPP agency Grey London, where they were chairman, chief executive and managing director respectively.

Uncommon's billings rose 42% to £32m last year, according to Nielsen, after winning accounts including Quaker Oats. It also won Campaign's Creative Agency of the Year for 2020. Despite its successes, capturing BA would be a huge coup.

Loyalty and customer communications plays an important role in BA's communications and, interestingly, Uncommon launched a customer experience practice in August.

International Airlines Group, BA's owner, kicked off the latest review of all its agency relationships in January 2021.

BA appointed WPP to handle its combined creative, media, social media and paid search in 2017 after a competitive pitch. The move ended BA's 12-year-long relationship with Bartle Bogle Hegarty.

The all-brand IAG media review and a pitch for the advertising for Vueling and Iberia are being run as separate parallel processes.

A BA spokesman said: "The process continues." WPP and Uncommon Creative Studio declined to comment.

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