Arun Sudhaman 23 May 2012 // 11:00PM GMT
LONDON--Travel website Expedia has selected Fleishman-Hillard to handle lead strategic PR duties in Europe.
The decision follows a competitive review that saw Expedia reconsider its PR relationships in the UK, Germany, Italy and France. F-H will now lead strategic coordination and in-market activity across these four countries, replacing previous incumbents GolinHarris (UK), FischerAppelt (Germany), Edelman (Italy), and Hopscotch (France).
It is understood that F-H secured the six-figure brief following a final round of pitching against two other network agencies, following an initial list of 10 contenders. F-H's selection will not impact Expedia's agency relationships in the Netherlands, the Nordics, and Spain.
“We remain committed to a locally tailored approach so we were looking for an agency which offered both strategic strength and strong media relations in each market - along with a proven track record of managing pan-European campaigns," said Expedia EMEA senior PR manager Jill Lloyd.
"It has been a very tough choice as all the agencies we invited to pitch presented compelling creative ideas founded in solid strategic thinking. Ultimately, Fleishman-Hillard demonstrated a particularly clear understanding of our specific goals and we felt they were best fit to work with us to drive these forwards.”
Fleishman-Hillard will take on responsibility for both pan-European campaigns coordinated from the UK hub, and local campaigns managed by its local operations.
The review was part of Expedia’s efforts to create some distance between itself and its numerous competitors in the online travel booking market in Europe. The company believes that consumers may find it difficult to distinguish between the different players, which include such names as Opodo, Lastminute.com, and various aggregators.
The consumer-focused assignment includes awareness of SEO and social media, although it will not affect We Are Social’s role as Expedia’s lead strategic social media firm. Strong technology skills are also important, reflecting Expedia’s purchase of mobile development company Mobiata in 2010, and increased investment in the website’s technology platform.
Expedia is also hoping to broaden awareness of its ‘People-Shaped Travel’ marketing platform, which launched last year. Agencies invited to pitch were challenged with demonstrating the how they would use the platform to drive differentiation for Expedia in a crowded marketplace.
Separately, F-H has signed up Bite’s Tom Berry to lead its technology practice in London.
Berry leaves his post as a board director at Bite Communications, where he spent seven years. He becomes a director and partner at Fleishman-Hillard and head of technology.
In his role at Bite, Tom grew the agency’s integrated communications offerings, delivering a range of content, marcomms and consultancy services to a number of blue-chip clients.
Before his spell at tech boutique Inferno and Bite, Berry was deputy editor at VNU’s Financial Director magazine and was the PPA Business Writer of the Year in 2005.
“I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Tom on board,” said F-H London MD Richard Kanareck. “He’s a hugely skilled and well-networked communicator, and an entrepreneurial, inspiring and colourful personality.”
“Tom’s arrival will help strengthen further our content and integrated marcomms capabilities, on top of what is already a strong media relations and international coordination expertise.”
Added Berry: “The opportunity to work alongside a group of first class communicators to help expand the F-H offering for both existing and new clients was frankly too good to resist.”
F-H London’s tech practice works with the likes of AT&T, Avaya, RIM and Tata Consultancy Services.