Ketchum San Francisco wins Orbitz account

CHICAGO: Ketchum's 140-person San Francisco office has won a 'seven-figure' PR assignment from new Web travel site Orbitz.

CHICAGO: Ketchum's 140-person San Francisco office has won a 'seven-figure' PR assignment from new Web travel site Orbitz.

CHICAGO: Ketchum's 140-person San Francisco office has won a 'seven-figure' PR assignment from new Web travel site Orbitz.

Chicago-based Orbitz also has hired Ketchum's Omnicom-owned sister agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, to handle advertising for the planned site launch on June 1.

Carol Jouzaitis, Orbitz VP of corporate communications, was unavailable for comment on the Ketchum selection, but has said in the past that PR spending for the launch would be in the seven-figure range. Orbitz also works with Chicago PR shop Kemper Lesnick.

Other travel sites have complained that Orbitz will pose unfair competition since it is owned by five major airlines - American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United.

Orbitz has responded that it will offer consumers a wider choice of flights than competitors because of the new software it uses.

Jouzaitis began the hunt for a launch agency in August, saying at the time that size wasn't an important criterion. 'We want a breakthrough event for the launch,' she said. 'Creativity matters more than size.'

Ketchum's Lorne Fisher said PR for the launch will be consumer-focused and will stress the new technology Orbitz uses to find flights for travelers.

'Orbitz has a great value proposition for consumers. We need to articulate that,' he said.

Ketchum initially is assigning four San Francisco people to the Orbitz account, but will supplement it with personnel in other parts of the country as needed, said Fisher. Ketchum will arrange speaking engagements for Orbitz executives and create a news bureau for the site. However, it will not be involved in government affairs work in Washington, where Orbitz has faced complaints before federal regulators.

With the addition of Orbitz as a client, Internet companies will account for 20% of Ketchum San Francisco's projected 2000 income.



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