Six-way pitch for Sri Lankan PR brief

Sri Lankan Airlines has conducted a six-way pitch for its PR business in the UAE, which is currently held by Euro RSCG Furness.

The airline wants an agency to assist its Colombo-based media relations department in building the brand in the UAE. The chosen outfit will also liaise with UAE media on behalf of Sri Lankan.

Senior airline executives, led by Chandana da Silva, head of corporate communication, flew to Dubai last week to meet with six shortlisted agencies, including incumbent Euro RSCG Furness.

The other agencies interviewed were Active PR, Biz.com, Concept PR, Market Buzz and NettResults.

An announcement on the winner is expected in around two weeks.

The appointment of a new PR agency comes as a new print and TV advertising campaign for Sri Lankan breaks across the Indian sub-continent and the Middle East, focusing on the fact that the airline flies to 10 destinations across India.

Da Silva admitted that Sri Lanka as a country had not been good at marketing itself. "We have been doing the work for the country and the airline," he said.

He said Sri Lankan was perceived in the Middle East as a carrier of blue collar workers between Dubai and Colombo, but planned upgrades to the airline's business class cabin would make it more attractive to business flyers.

"We need to change perceptions and position ourselves as a state-of-the-art carrier. We can also cater to the higher spender," he said.

"We have to bundle up Sri Lankan in different wrapping. We want to be top of mind and considered in the same way as Emirates and British Airways."

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