JetBlue tests the social media credibility of ad agencies vying for its account

Social media recognizance could provide a significant advantage to your agency’s new business initiatives. Twitter, along with blogs, blog comments, and other social networks, is abundant with conversations that can give your agency a boost over your competition.

JetBlue Airways tested the social media credibility of ad agencies vying for the airline’s marketing account by tweeting. Ad Age’s Kunur Patel recently reported, in his article JetBlue Marketer to Agencies: Find Me on Twitter, wrote,

“One basic way agencies can demonstrate digital chops to a potential client? Find him or her on Twitter.

That’s the lesson to be learned from JetBlue’s senior VP-marketing and commercial, Marty St. George, who earlier today decided to test agencies currently vying for the airline’s marketing account with this tweet: “We’re pitching our advertising AOR. Curious on digital savvy … first test is how many of the agencies will find me on Twitter.”

As of the timing of Patel’s article only two agencies, Mullen and New York-based Ludvik & Partners, were following Marty St. George (@martysg). Boston based Mullen was named as JetBlue’s new agency following a five-month review process.

I’m sure Mullen did its homework and was gathering as much intel as possible. Knowing that JetBlue’s marketing strategy leans heavily on digital channels and social media the past few years. That the company has 1.6 million followers on Twitter and that Mr. St. George also had his own Twitter account and was posting about the agency review process.

Mullen has been “walking the walk” creating a strong track record within the digital space and the social media arena, that has been producing new business results such as their recent win of the Zappos account.

Unsurprisingly, the Ad Age article raised quite a few comments. Many comments from those within the ad industry were negative toward Marty St. George’s tactics:

  • If you ask me, JetBlue isn’t setting the bar very high with this little exercise. There are much better way to find a digital savvy agency.
  • I’m not sure if this is absurd, egotistical, misguided or all of the above.
  • Unfortunately this is an example of how not to start an agency review.
  • By analogy, I wouldn’t find my future wife by asking her to find me on twitter.
  • Hey, St. George, get over yourself. do you want top talent or not? stop with the rank “talent search” moves.
  • Face it: its a hack move pure and simple (with the emphasis on SIMPLE).

My opinion, from a new business perspective, while many agencies whine about these type of tactics the smart agencies will seize the opportunities. What’s your opinion?

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About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. I’m with you, Michael! Look ahead of the curve for the changes. That’s life. That’s “Who moved my Cheese.” That’s obviously the way to snag a huge, progressive client like Jet Blue.

    To look at the AdAge printed comments above, I just find myself shaking my head. The proven, established way of doing things seems closer to a stigma than a strategy.

    I understand the compulsion to glean comfort from what is familiar, but when everything is familiar, doesn’t it inevitably become boring?

    If the market is living in Foursquare, AR, and iPad apps, so should the agency.

  2. Michael –

    We’ve yet to meet but we both worked at BOHAN in Nashville. I follow your stuff and I love this post. Perfect. Great move by JetBlue.

    I now shall tweet about this.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. Funny, because it was sent to me from the president of a major Ad Agency here in Lexington KY.

    For about a year we’ve been having this ongoing conversation about how the “old way” is shifting and “social media” is all over the place. Slowly, agencies are learning–It’s not a fad.

    What I’ve found interesting is how he told me that six months ago the question was, “Should we do a social media campaign?” now it is, “How should we…”

    That’s a flawless move by Jet Blue. I do SEO with my company. If my site wasn’t ranking why would anyone give me the time of day?

    but the comments…too good. (If they had 1.6 million followers on twitter, wouldn’t that be a huge hint?)

    ….you have a new reader!
    Dustin Wunderlich

  4. Thanks Steve. I look forward to meeting you in person at some point. Be sure and tell Hannah I said hello.

  5. Thanks Dustin. Please feel free to share how I can improve the site and info.

  6. This reminds of the girl who gets all dressed up but doesn’t go to the dance.
    As you’ve told me before Michael, if your not walking the talk your just talking.
    Looks like a lot of whining to me.
    PS> I think a lot of the airlines where critical of Jet Blue when they rolled out the company. He just maybe smarter than people think!

  7. I agree. Thanks Ron!

  8. Michael:

    Great post. Let me say it again: GREAT POST.

    Dustin made a salient point….if he can not optimize his own site to get good rankings, why would a potential client want him to do theirs?

    JetBlue is making a correct decision with their plan of action.

    Thanks again……

  9. Thank you Harold.

  10. I remember reading this Ad Age article in May. I thought to myself, “the venomous hissing coming from the brood is definitely a sign that Jet Blue did the right thing.”

    The saddest comment is: “By analogy, I wouldn’t find my future wife by asking her to find me on twitter.”

    How about, my future wife should find me at a concert, late-night showing of Blade Runner or a cooking class. Her interests should match mine.

    Your agency’s interests should definitely match yours.

  11. Thanks for your thoughts Derek.

  12. Appears to me to be a moot point as its not an “either or”. I think Jet Blue was looking for a great agency AND they needed to know the agency was pro-active and up to speed on social media. Complaining is not going to help.

  13. Radovan Andrej Grezo says:

    as a PR stunt for the personal brand of St. George and the JetBlue brand, it’s a nice trick to get into AdAge and the ad blogosphere. so that worked.
    as a way to find a new agency, if he’s after the agency that will lick his feet the most and kiss his ass, perfect. if he’s wrong on too many levels.

  14. Radovan Andrej Grezo says:

    since when following someone’s personal tweets are a sign of a good agency-client relationship? I’d call it brown nosing.

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