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DraftFCB takes main Air New Zealand prize, but Saatchi & Saatchi also gets in on the act

In what will be a big blow to incumbent agency .99, Air New Zealand has chosen DrafFCB to be its lead agency after a competitive pitch, starting in March. But there is still some mystery surrounding the set-up of the account because Saatchi & Saatchi, which a few industry big mouths had thought was looking good to take the win, has also been included on the airline's agency roster.  

DraftFCB hasn't really put a foot wrong recently (except perhaps for this strange bit of work for new client Maritime NZ). And, at the time of the pitch, it was thought Air New Zealand was keen to focus on getting more bums on seats, rather than on the brand. With big retail clients like Mitre 10, Bond and Bond, Genesis and Pak n Save, it has plenty of experience in this area. But it has shown it also has the ability to come up with big, effective creative ideas for the likes of Mini, ALAC and the Ministry of Health with The Journal.

In the statement, Bryan Crawford, chairman and group chief executive of DraftFCB in Australia and New Zealand said: “We are thrilled about our new partnership with the team at Air New Zealand, and look forward to working closely with the airline in the future.” (We also called executive creative director James Mok and he picked up his phone in Portugal, so we left him to his salted cod).

Youtube VideoAir New Zealand, which was named as the 2012 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World for the second time in three years and has also undergone a few staff changes in the marketing department of late, is certainly one of New Zealand's most loved brands. And, despite all the handwringing over Rico, .99 played a big role in helping to revive it. The inflight videos, which basically became a completely new media channel for the brand, were particularly successful and while ex-marketing bod Steve Bayliss has said in the past the viral activity and popularity was great for the brand, the best thing about them was that they reinforced to the staff onboard exactly what the brand was about before every flight, something that's very hard to do in a service industry like aviation.

As for what Saatchi & Saatchi will be doing, spokesman Greg Fahey couldn't really help shed any light on that and wasn't sure if all the details have been ironed out yet.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said marketing director Mike Tod wasn't in the office today and wouldn't be able to comment. But he did tell us the airline would be working with Saatchi & Saatchi on a project by project basis when and as required.

Saatchi & Saatchi chief executive Nicky Bell is also out of the country. But she said in a statement: “Air New Zealand is an iconic New Zealand brand that has been on the edge of what’s new, not only in their offering but in their communication as well. We are thrilled that Air New Zealand has decided to include us in their roster. We really enjoyed the process they ran for the pitch and getting to know their team, and we’re looking forward to getting started."

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