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DDB Sydney lands Virgin Australia’s creative account

Virgin Australia has appointed DDB to its creative account, marking the end of one of the biggest creative pitches of the year so far, Mumbrella can reveal.

The pitch, which was confirmed by the airline in March, was led by former Telstra marketer Inese Kingsmill, who joined Virgin Australia Group as chief marketing officer in December.

Mumbrella understands Clemenger BBDO Sydney, TBWA Sydney, DDB Sydney and M&C Saatchi Sydney were the agencies involved in the shortlist.

Clemenger BBDO Sydney has held the account since 2010, however at the end of last year the airline announced it had cut ad agency budgets, bringing creative in-house with Michael Dole working as executive creative director on a contract basis. 

Dole’s contract is set to finish at the end of this month.

At the time of the pitch launch, a spokesperson for Virgin Australia told Mumbrella: “Virgin Australia continues to work with a number of agencies to service its marketing requirements.

“A pitch process involving a small number of agencies is currently underway and we will provide a further update as this progresses.”

Clemenger BBDO Sydney were given a second chance at the airline account and M&C Saatchi were pitching follow loss of the global Etihad account.

Speaking at Mumbrella’s Travel Marketing Summit in April, Kingsmill said “customer experience” would be the focus for the brand, and the centre of the brief was “not advertising.”

“This is a heartfelt brand. It’s a brand people need to feel,” Kingsmill told the audience at the Summit.

Kingsmill: “The centre of this brief is not advertising”

“An appreciation and the ability to tap into those sensibilities and what it means to be Virgin and Virgin Australia is first and foremost.

“Secondly, the ability to be able to create impactful, loveable and consistent brand platforms. No brand stands still; it needs to build and evolve and remain relevant to achieve sustainable and profitable growth.

“The final thing is whilst there are a small number of agencies that you would call advertising agencies we’re chatting with, the centre of this brief is not advertising,” she said.

“The centre of this brief is bringing the vision to life in line with the Virgin Australia brand values, and putting the customer experience at the centre.”

The pitch win also follows a rebrand of Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program, for the first time in 11 years.

Mumbrella understand’s DDB will be responsible for a major brand refresh.

In a statement, Inese Kingsmill, chief marketing offer at Virgin Australia said: “Following a competitive pitch process we are pleased to announce the appointment of DDB Sydney as Virgin Australia’s new creative agency.

“DDB was selected on the strength of a standout response to our brief, including its ability to capture the essence of the Virgin Australia brand and demonstrating they will be a strong partner ready to hit the ground running. The overall calibre of ideas and thinking presented during the process was world-class and we’d like to thank the other agencies involved for their time and creativity.”

DDB Sydney’s managing director, Nicole Taylor, said it was the “right idea for the right time” for Virgin Australia.

“We had a very inspiring brief from Virgin Australia and are excited to have created a famous idea that is emotionally charged and capable of impacting the full Virgin Australia experience, not just the advertising.

“It’s the right idea for the right time for Virgin Australia.

“DDB looks forward to an enduring and successful relationship with Ines and the Virgin Australia business,” she said.

DDB’s appointment follows McDonald’s consolidating their creative account with the agency last month.

The agency’s clients include McDonald’s, Westpac and Volkswagen.

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