SBJ/Dec. 14, 2009/This Week's News

British Airways account shifts to IMG Consulting

IMG Consulting is finishing the year strong, winning the assignment as British Airways’ sponsorship agency of record in a review that took most of 2009.

Sebastian Smith, vice president of consulting at IMG’s London offices, cited IMG’s creative ideas, global capabilities and Olympic experience as determining factors in securing the account. With the win, IMG adds an important Olympic client in the host city of London for 2012 to a roster that already includes 24 Hour Fitness, General Electric, Wrigley Canada, Cadbury in the United Kingdom and some work for LOCOG, the 2012 Games’ organizing group.

“[British Airways now has] a global agenda in sponsorship and they want us to assist them in making sponsorship a worldwide global marketing discipline,” Smith said. Key markets for British Airways outside of the U.K. are the United States, India, South Africa and Japan.

U.K. sponsorship agency Synergy was the incumbent and last week still had the airline listed on its Web site as a client. However, David Abrutyn, senior vice president and global managing director for IMG Consulting, confirmed that IMG has won the account.

“This was a challenging year for every company in consulting,” he said, “but the foundation of our business has never been better, especially considering the upcoming Olympic and World Cup activation in 2010.”

Abrutyn added that in addition to the British Airways business, IMG Consulting won Amway’s global sponsorship account a few months back. IMG Consulting is also working with McDonald’s on some of that company’s global sports properties, which include next year’s FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics. Additionally, IMG Consulting has hired Tim McGhee, former AT&T executive director of corporate sponsorships, as senior vice president, based in New York. McGhee last worked for IMG Consulting from 2002 to 2005, when he was a group account director.

British Airways will look to further integrate its sponsorship efforts within its “Great Britons” talent search, which seeks to reward those in fashion, the performing arts, sports, and art and design, with flights to places that could help advance their careers. IMG will also design programs to get British Airways employees involved in the 2012 Olympics.

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