PHD wins Virgin Australia media account

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 17 April 2019

PHD Australia has been appointed to the media account for Virgin Australia following a competitive pitch, AdNews can reveal.

AdNews broke the news of the pitch earlier this year, with the domestic and international airline opting not to return to foundation agency Carat.

Virgin Australia will work with agencies Carat and Columbus Agency over the next three months as it transitions into PHD.

PHD will handle offline, digital and performance media planning and buying for the airline. Initially thought to be worth $9m, sources close to AdNews have put the total spend closer to $15m (once digital and social are factored in).

“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," Virgin Australia marketing director Michael Nearhos told AdNews in a statement.

“We have run a robust process, and thank all the participants for bringing such great thinking and passion to our business. 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.”

Virgin Australia's executive team has also undergone a shake-up over the past 12-months, with the business appointing former NAB marketing exec Nearhos to the marketing director role last year.

Danielle Keighery is Virgin Australia's group executive, heading up brand, marketing, public affairs and customer insights, following the exit of former CMO Inese Kingsmill.

Most recently, Paul Scurrah took over as CEO and managing director, replacing John Borghetti who exited the business last month after five years at the helm.

Rumours had been circulating of a review since late 2017, when the business appointed DDB Sydney to its creative account. 

Most recently, DDB Sydney launched its latest major work for the airline, focused on promoting Virgin's in-flight wifi offering.

The win continues the strong start to the year for PHD which also nabbed the $15m AFL account from Carat's sister agency Vizeum.

Carat has had a tumultuous start to the year, with Schweppes, another foundation client, also out to pitch as it looks to consolidate its media buying as part of the Asahi Beverages group.

Despite this, Carat made a solid retention in Western Australia this year, securing the Cash Converters account.

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