PR agency ‘fires’ client Qatar Airways

Sandra Devahasdin

Perth PR agency Devahasdin has fired client Qatar Airways.

In an email to contacts, the agency’s founder Sandra Devahasdin described the relationship as “untenable”.

Devahasdin would not reveal the reason for the split, telling Mumbrella Qatar Airways “does not fit into our business plans”.

Devahasdin began working with the fast-growing airline, recently voted the best in the world for the second year running, nine months ago.

The email from Devas read:

Devahasdin will no longer be the PR representative for Qatar Airways, effective immediately.

While we very much enjoyed working on and achieving great results for the launch and several promotions, an ongoing effective relationship is untenable.

We would like to thank you for your support of Qatar and Devahasdin, and trust we will be in touch with you before too long regarding other client matters.

Qatar Airways were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

Qatar Airways recently announced it would bring the first Boeing 787 Dreamliners flights to Australia, although one aircraft was grounded the day after the announcement due to an electrical problem.


  1. shaun
    14 Dec 12
    2:35 pm

  2. Why do agencies feel the need to report this kind of story? is it similar to breaking up in a relationship with your parter when a teenager? or just trying to grab some airtime?
    either way. poor form in my opinion. Thanks PR lady, we wont be bringing our business to you… it’s obviously about you more than us.

  3. joanne
    14 Dec 12
    2:40 pm

  4. A brave move. It is always a tough call when a client relationship isn’t delivering for both parties. And who in our industry hasn’t dreamed of telling a particularly challenging client (read rude, demanding, plain psycho) their cheques are not longer required?

  5. Beery
    14 Dec 12
    2:45 pm

  6. Having done it (proactively parted ways with a client – ‘fires’ is such a dramatic term isn’t it), I recall it was a bitter-sweet experience. However, I am surprised an agency would want to make it public – it might raise questions about the ability to work with the agency rather than any deficiency of the client. Will more details be publicly revealed in coming days although many in the industry probably know why already?

  7. SJ
    14 Dec 12
    2:50 pm

  8. She should fire her stylist also, big collar, big belt, big no no.

  9. Caroline
    14 Dec 12
    2:50 pm

  10. Nice outfit though.

  11. NS
    14 Dec 12
    2:53 pm

  12. you only pull this ruse if you’re about to be fired yourself – ad agencies do this all the time.

  13. GC
    14 Dec 12
    3:00 pm

  14. today we are all untenable.

  15. Mish
    14 Dec 12
    3:05 pm

  16. Am with @shaun. why publicise this?

  17. Mick Hunter
    14 Dec 12
    3:11 pm

  18. I disagree Shaun. Bad clients need to be outed. How else can we avoid them if we don’t know who they are? Well done Sandra.

  19. Agency Guy
    14 Dec 12
    3:15 pm

  20. I agree with you Shaun….. even though, its tempting, and especially when you feel unfairly treated by a client during the relationship, the best thing to do is “shut Up” and move on.

    Bad move, from a so called PR specialist.

  21. Hoin
    14 Dec 12
    3:23 pm

  22. There is a Qatar Airlines?

  23. In the Pink
    14 Dec 12
    3:32 pm

  24. No doubt the PR agency hasn’t been paid. That’s usually the main reason an agency fires a client!

  25. Wendy
    14 Dec 12
    3:33 pm

  26. How do you all even know they publicised this? It sounds to me like they sent an email to their clients and now its been reported on.

  27. Mike
    14 Dec 12
    4:20 pm

  28. This is the airline – Qatar, or is it catarrh? – that wind-bagged yesterday that Sydney airport should be a 24 hour airport.

    As selfish, thoughtless acts of bastardry go, that’s hard to beat.

    Good on the PR agency for firing them.

    Until Qatar Airlines starts behaving like a socially responsible corporate, they should get the hell out of Australia, and stay out.

  29. Sandra Devahasdin
    14 Dec 12
    4:32 pm

  30. Wendy, you’re absolutely right. By way of clarification let me say, Mumbrella’s headline and lead para regarding Devahasdin / Qatar Airways was wide off the mark.

    I regret the report and can confirm we did not ‘fire’ the client. We had, and continue to have, a healthy relationship, which has been maintained beyond our amicable separation.

    The email quoted was a personalised message sent to travel media so they were aware Devahasdin would no longer be the contact point for media queries relating to Qatar, and supplying them with the new contact details to ensure there was no loss in promotional opportunities for Qatar.

  31. Jack B. Nimble
    14 Dec 12
    5:32 pm

  32. I find it very interesting timing that Devahasdin ‘fired’ Qatar and sent that email out on the very afternoon that Qatar announced it would start flying the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Perth, which is a big deal because this will be the first 787 flying in Australia (see for more on that). It’s hard to imagine the two are unrelated, that the timing was pure co-incidence, so I think there is more behind this story.

  33. Spindoctor
    14 Dec 12
    5:45 pm

  34. The world’s best airline suggests Australia’s busiest airport should be like most other major airports around the world and operate around the clock. Why does Mike think this is an act of bastardry and that Qatar is being a socially irresponsible corporate? Does he live under a flight path like I do? I have no problems with it.

  35. Harry Georgeson
    14 Dec 12
    7:48 pm

  36. While my Qatar gently weeps.

  37. Roger
    15 Dec 12
    8:47 pm

  38. “an amicable separation” and “an ongoing effective relationship is untenable.” do not really seem to fit together.

  39. BenC
    15 Dec 12
    9:16 pm

  40. Whoops!

  41. Who cares said
    16 Dec 12
    7:59 pm

  42. Who cares?

  43. ant
    17 Dec 12
    11:05 am

  44. Spindoctor, I have a huge problem with a 24 hour airport. I’ve been living in Newtown since before there was a 3rd runway, so don’t give me any of this “Well, you shouldn’t have moved there” crap. If our government’s weren’t such cowards, I wouldn’t have to note all the curfew breaches and contact Airservices Australia so often.

    I suspect In The Pink is right about not getting paid. It’s very hard to get money out of the Gulf – if you have any disagreement about terms at all it basically gets parked for a once-a-year settlement discussion with the Emir or Sheikh controlling the region – the ultimate arbiter of commercial disputes. If he doesn’t feel like dealing with it, it just won’t get paid. Several US corporations have had to write off tens of millions of dollars because of this process, but they do it because they bulk up the fees on other projects so much.

    There was an agency in Pyrmont NSW who went bust about 3 or four years ago because of unpaid work from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but I can’t remember their name right now. How fast agencies fade from view once they’re gone.

  45. Spindoctor
    17 Dec 12
    11:23 am

  46. Read my comment before you put your other foot in your mouth ant – I didn’t say anything about not moving there. By your comment you’re suggesting that you moved to Newtown before the airport was built! I think not. As I said, I live under a flight path and it doesn’t worry me.

  47. Mike
    17 Dec 12
    4:06 pm

  48. Well said ant.

    If SpinDoctor doesn’t think that’s an act of bastardry by Qatar airlines – which incidentally is from a country that is run by an absolute monarchy dictatorship – then we can only assume poor old SpinDoctor is equally lacking in empathy for his/her fellow citizens as the Emir of Qatar is.
    Sociopathy is incurable – you have my sympathy.

  49. Spindoctor
    17 Dec 12
    4:23 pm

  50. Are you on the same planet? Do you actually read comments before you respond to them? And why the comments about monarchy in Quatar and me lacking empathy? You obviously know nothing about me or the global business as it applies to the aviation industry. Spare us any more of your rantings.

  51. Honey
    17 Dec 12
    4:54 pm

  52. As a PR person who’s had to give out my personal number on occasion (working for charities or tight agencies that won’t supply a phone) I still get phonecalls from jobs as far back as 2004. I think it’s fair to say there’s probably more to this story than meets they eye but clearly the original purpose of the email was to tell day-to-day contacts “we don’t do these guys any more, call someone else”. Nevertheless, I’m going to err on the side of caution and avoid flying in a Boeing 787…

  53. NS
    17 Dec 12
    5:00 pm

  54. Spindoctor you’re a muppet

    these days if you live in Sydney, you live under a flight path

    how happy will we be to be woken throughout the night by a 24 hour privately owned corporation conducting it’s particular style of commerce

    ever heard of ‘externalities’, Spindoctor?

  55. Sydneynudism
    17 Dec 12
    6:45 pm

  56. An advertising agency being honest and everyone’s surprised!

  57. Spindoctor
    17 Dec 12
    7:36 pm

  58. NS – given you appear to be a dickhead I take your comment as a compliment

  59. Logical King
    18 Dec 12
    12:25 am

  60. Spindoctor, perhaps Sydneysiders would prefer to revisit horse-and-carriage as the primary mode of transport.

    Calling people sociopath etc after a paragraph on curfews is pathetic.

  61. BenC
    18 Dec 12
    9:00 pm

  62. It’s clear Devahasdin didn’t ‘fire Qatar Airways’ and I’d bet the farm it had nothing to do with 24 hour airports!

    This stuff happens all the time and before blogs and such it would be purely industry gossip and that’s it.

    If I had to guess, it would on a scenario something along these lines:

    Qatar when they first entered the Australian market, their presence wasn’t all that big. Consequently, they mainly wanted to their PR firm promote the airline into the travel industry and give it a bit of ‘glitz and glam’.

    This probably went really well but when the airline started to up its presence in the market and issues arose. Maybe the PR firm started getting more media calls and were doing more reactive media relations than Qatar was paying them for.

    Devahasdin thinks AHA more billing coming up but when they tell the client the extra fees are because the AFR or The Australian are ringing not just travel industry news things go pear shaped. The airline thinks that maybe they’d rather someone else handle that. Devahasdin keep the events, the glitz and glam and the maybe the trade media. They sent the email because their bread and butter is what they’ve kept and they want to protect their reputation.

    What’s the best Sandra and Co have online issues management to their service offering and we now all have to call Mumbrella when anything like this happens and say ” it’s no biggie, but….”