SAA out to pitch?
The massive South African Airways (SAA) advertising account is likely to come up for tender some time this year and - if rumours hold true - incumbent HerdBuoys McCann-Erickson may find the going tough.
The SAA account is one of the largest and most prestigious in the country. Pitching for it has been a close-run thing in the past, with agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and FCB making a strong showing.
The account is also one of the largest held by HerdBuoys alongside Telkom and Coca-Cola and makes up a large part of its revenue. Losing it would be a significant setback and, in the time-honoured tradition of advertising, would likely see substantial layoffs at the company.
SAA could not immediately confirm rumours of an imminent tender, although staffers did say the issue was getting attention, but HerdBuoys MD Happy Ntshingila said movement would not surprise him.
“It came up last year but then the pitch was called off, we don’t know why,” he said. “I don’t know when but it is going to come up any minute. Of course the longer it takes the better.”
Ntshingila said HerdBuoys would definitely pitch for the account again and admitted that the company would be nervous about the possibility of losing it. “But then everyone in advertising should always be nervous.”
He said the agency was generally happy with how it had handled the account and was satisfied with the creative work it had delivered. However, that contrasts sharply with murmurs from within SAA that the agency had grown complacent and that its delivery had slacked off in recent months.
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