PHD wins Virgin Australia media account

Virgin Australia has concluded the review of its media agency arrangements, and appointed Omnicom Media Group’s PHD.

The account was previously held by Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat.

Virgin has switched up its media agency arrangements

Virgin Australia said it would work with Carat and Columbus Agency over the next three months on the transition.

PHD is now the preferred candidate across offline, digital and performance media planning and buying.

Michael Nearhos, marketing director at Virgin Australia, told Mumbrella in a statement the brand is looking forward to working with PHD.

“We have run a robust process, and thank all the participants for bringing such great thinking and passion to our business,” he said. “We look forward to working with PHD, as part of Omnicom Media Group, across the whole of our media planning and buying needs. We were impressed with their capabilities, tools and culture.”

He also thanked the outgoing agencies.

“We have worked with Carat for eight years and Columbus for the last few years. We thank these agencies, and their great people for their support and contribution to our business.”

The past 12 months has been one of immense change for Carat. While it recently appointed Alex Smith as client lead, Marnie McKeown as head of content services and media integration and Dick Laurie as strategy director, over the past year it lost CEO Paul Brooks (joining Nine), CMO Andrea Rule (moving to LinkedIn), head of strategy Alex James (shifting to a similar role at PHD), head of digital Michael Corry (jumping ship to 303 MullenLowe), and the former head of the Disney account, Laura Bartal (becoming partner at Lacuna). Tom Andrews then returned to Carat to head up the $19.4m Disney account.

The agency also lost a number of key clients, including the $40m Mondelēz International account, $20m Amart account and Bega (which moved to Thinkerbell after a 10-year relationship with Carat).

It has had some wins, however, with the addition of United Airlines, the $10m Beacon Lighting account, Event Hospitality and Entertainment and Grill’d.

Virgin Australia too has undergone significant change over the past few years, with a reduction in budgets available for agency partners.

The brand pitched its creative account, with DDB appointed in June 2017, under then chief marketing officer Inese Kingsmill.

Kingsmill, however, then departed after less than a year in the role, following a restructure of the marketing department.

Rob Sharp was promoted to group executive, while Danielle Keighery became group executive of brand, marketing and public affairs.

In September last year, former NAB marketer Nearhos joined the brand as marketing director. The brand no longer has a CMO, with the marketing team reporting into Nearhos, and Nearhos reporting to Keighery.

When Nearhos was appointed, he said Virgin Australia’s relationships with agencies wouldn’t be under immediate review, noting creative agency DDB “has been doing a really great job”.


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