CHICAGO: United Airlines hired Edelman as its first AOR, after a months-long competitive RFP process.
Tony Cervone, SVP and CCO at United, would not disclose the other agencies involved.
Edelman will focus on national consumer PR, while also supporting other integrated marketing communications efforts, as part of the three-year contract.
“We need to tell the story of what United is doing well, what we're improving, how we're building the brand, and what we're offering customers,” he said. “That'll be the focus of what Edelman will work with us on. They have a stellar reputation when it comes to consumer communications.”
Nancy Ruscheinski, president and COO at Edelman, said the account will be led out of the agency's Chicago office, but it will also provide ground support in hub markets such as Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Maxine Winer, EVP at Edelman, will serve as the client relationship manager on the account.
United went through three official rounds during the RFP process, but Cervone explained that “there were numerous other conversations internally and collectively with agencies.”
“It took longer than we originally anticipated because of the quality of proposals we got across the board,” he said. “It required us to do several rounds.”
He declined to comment on the recent rumor about a merger with Continental and dismissed any correlation between that rumor and the length of the RFP process.
He added that the airline may keep some of its existing agency relationships for specific project work if it relates to individual expertise.
“Clearly the focus we need to have as a communications staff now is in building the foundations of the brand to the various stakeholder audiences we have, and that is critical for us in the short term and has been for some time,” he said.
Cervone declined to comment on the size of the budget.