Gosh, the entire advertising industry is buzzing with excitement after the news that Singapore Airlines is up for pitch. It has been what, 35 years since it appointed Batey? Talk about loyalty.
It is rare to find mammoth accounts in Singapore, and it is even more rare to find ones that resist the urge to pick up and flee their agency after a short while to head for somewhere else that charges lower fees or which the client can “work better with”.
One that does come to mind is the Republic of Singapore Navy business which has stayed with Saatchi & Saatchi for over 22 years. The billings for the RSN account are obviously smaller than SIA (ST estimates it’s worth about $50 mil a yr), just based on the fact that one is local and the latter is global, but regardless of size, retaining something for that long is no small feat.
Hats off to Batey for holding on so long, and keeping a steady relationship with their client, and weathering storms together. It’s a shame there’s a chance they may lose the business considering they only have Metro left as a major client but a review after so many years is frankly overdue on SIA’s part.
Also, such is life when the agency lands a solid creative leader like Ng Tian It who signs up for the challenge but who is dealt such a hand even before he commences work officially. Same goes for Alan Fairnington who is also a godsend for the business, and who has only been in his role for a few months.
So Batey’s fate hangs in the balance. Will it win against all the odds? Will WPP throw its full weight behind it to make sure it retains the business? Or even if Batey loses, what steps will Sir Martin Sorrell take to keep the business “within the family”? Or will it all fall apart for what was once the Singapore icon for advertising?
This is like watching a soap opera. Drama lah.
Anyway, I feel we won’t be wondering for too long. An initial question will be answered fairly soon. SIA definitely has an idea whether or not to stop working with Batey. I think SIA would prefer to change agencies so it will get a fresh perspective on its business. And that means Batey enters pitches at an initial disadvantage (even though it has years of experience working with the client).
However, considering the introduction of leadership at Batey, the first presentation by Alan and team should be the deciding factor. If they can successfully wow SIA to giving them a shot at the second round of pitches, then their chances would be close to equal that of other second round suitors.
I have to keep an objective mind on this but I’m secretly rooting for the underdog.