Media Contacts secures £8m First Choice digital account

Media Contacts, MPG's interactive agency, has snatched the £8m digital media planning and buying business for travel operator First Choice, previously handled by The Search Works.

First Choice: latest agency appointment follows merger with TUI Travel
First Choice: latest agency appointment follows merger with TUI Travel

The appointment was made without an official pitch, but follows the merger of First Choice Holidays with TUI Travel in 2007. Media Contacts has handled TUI’s digital media for 10 years.

The account move is a blow to The Search Works, which extended its relationship with TUI’s Thomson brand in 2008 to include natural search.

From November, Media Contacts will run First Choice’s online campaigns, which are set to expand from pay-per-click to include all digital marketing. Thomson and First Choice’s digital work will be consolidated into a single agency for the first time.

Nathan Timmins, head of online marketing at TUI Travel, said he had been particularly impressed with Media Contacts’ strategic insight.

TUI Travel consolidated its creative business into Beattie McGuinness Bungay and its offline media business into WPP’s MediaCom soon after the merger. Both accounts are unaffected by this week’s appointment of the Havas Digital agency.

TUI is investing heavily in e-commerce to increase online conversion, with search expected to drive much of the activity.

The Nielsen Company is unable to track search billings, but Paul Frampton, managing director at MPG and Media Contacts, said it probably represented the biggest digital-only move of the year.

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