Portland fights off rivals to keep massive Heathrow account
There were 'excellent' bids from rival agencies, according to Heathrow's comms chief.
Portland has seen off tough competition to keep hold of a key public affairs and corporate communications account with Heathrow airport, said to be be worth in excess of £250k in fees annually.
Tim Allan’s agency was placed on alert by Heathrow last year, prompting one of the most hotly-contested pitch processes of 2017. PAN revealed in September that at least eight agencies had been invited to pitch for the sought-after account as Heathrow considered calling time on its relationship with Portland.
Among the agencies bidding to snatch the big-money account were Burson-Marstellar, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Edelman, Teneo Blue Rubicon and Weber Shandwick.
Some rival firms had expected that Heathrow would dump Portland after a turbulent year in which a number of senior partners left the agency. But Heathrow communications director Nigel Milton said: “Having completed the pitch process, the decision has been made to renew a contract with Portland who will support in-house teams across our corporate communications programme, including internal and external activations.
“2018 will be a significant year in Heathrow’s history as the business prepares itself for further momentum in our expansion campaign, Brexit and increasing world class passenger service and numbers. We are delighted to have Portland’s counsel and colleagues alongside us as we move through the opportunities and challenges all will pose.”
Having lost senior figures such as UK public affairs chief Oliver Pauley in 2017, Portland then significantly bolstered its senior team with the appointment of three former Downing Street advisors.
Despite having picked Portland, Milton said that rival agencies had also impressed him with their credentials.
“The pitch process highlighted the quality of communication agencies out there and I thank all who gave their time and showed interest in our company. The decision was made after careful consideration was shown towards all the excellent strategies presented, by what is clearly an incredibly talented and exciting industry to be in,” he said.