Malaysia Airlines calls off global pitch, tells 4As it needs to rethink marketing plans

Malaysia Airlines (MAB) has called off its global pitch covering creative, social and media for its marketing hub after it was first called in September last year. A+M understands the appointment initially covered global duties and was slated to be for a period of two years with the option to extend for another. Meanwhile, A+M understands that the contracts for all incumbents - M&C Saatchi, m/SIX and Reprise Digital - have been extended until June 2019.

In a letter sent out to agencies involved in the pitch, as well as the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As), MAB said that the pitch exercise has been called off due to several reasons. 4As confirmed to A+M that in the letter it had received, the national airline said it was looking at the redevelopment of MAB's overall business plan and strategy for the next three years and as such, has necessitated a re-think of its marketing strategy apart from other areas of the business. MAB also thanked the agencies for their time and effort and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

Khairudin Rahim, CEO of 4As Malaysia, told A+M that 4As member agencies that participated will receive pitch disbursement payment to help partially offset their costs. This is based on a formal pre-pitch agreement that all advertisers make with shortlisted 4As agencies via the 4As Secretariat. "The 4As and participating agencies, despite being very disappointed, respects why MAB felt it necessary to abort after the pitch presentations were submitted," he said.

"I am sure the next time MAB decides to re-engage with 4As agencies, they will ensure the pitch brief will be based on a marketing plan and strategy that has had the complete buy-in of their higher management," he added.

Meanwhile, A+M understands that under the initial plans to open a marketing hub, a lead agency would have been chosen to be in charge of all the appointed agencies, and to ensure there is a consolidated strategy for creative and social executions. The idea of the hub was to help MAB save both time and money when it comes to executing marketing strategies. MAB did not comment on the matter, adding that it does not comment on reports "speculative in nature" and will inform the market should there be new updates to share.

The cancellation of the news follows the recent departure of the airline's head of global marketing, Schrene Goh, as well as group CMO Arved von zur Muehlen last December.