Qantas hires AHCG to pilot its PR plans

LOS ANGELES: Qantas Airlines has named Agnes Huff Communications Group (AHCG) agency of record for its North American operations.

LOS ANGELES: Qantas Airlines has named Agnes Huff Communications Group (AHCG) agency of record for its North American operations.

Based in Los Angeles, also the home of Qantas' American headquarters, AHCG will handle media relations, national promotions, and publicity for the Australian air carrier.

"What we're doing now is looking for some major national promotions that we can tie in with," explained agency president Agnes Huff of her current activities.

On the media relations front, AHCG will handle Qantas' "visiting journalists program," which targets travel and feature writers for junkets to Australia and New Zealand. The program allocates about 50 individual trips a year for writers.

Qantas previously used Burson-Marsteller to handle North American issues, but decided to end that relationship after three-and-a-half years.

"We were going for a smaller agency relationship," explained Qantas' head of North American PR, Steve Kernaghan. "It's a bit of a reflection on the economy. We don't have a lot of budget right now."

AHCG worked with Qantas before the client's Burson relationship, helping to launch its daily service to Auckland, New Zealand, and spearheading an award-winning outdoor effort.

Qantas also worked with LA-based BWR on a project earlier this year to introduce actor John Travolta as an "ambassador-at-large" for the airline.

Travolta, a licensed pilot, subsequently flew a specially branded Qantas airplane to various locations, and met with members of the press and Qantas employees.

Qantas' largest upcoming PR effort, slated for 2004, will be the introduction of enhanced business-class seating, including reclining chairs similar to the ones recently unveiled by British Airways.

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