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Air Canada's tail wing logo seen on a plane in Toronto. An Air Canada flight destined for Vancouver returned to Australia after smoke was detected in its cabin.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

One of the most sought-after advertising accounts in Canada this year has gone to agency JWT Canada.

JWT announced Thursday that it will be Air Canada's new "agency of record," handling the bulk of the airline's branding, advertising and digital marketing around the world.

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The announcement follows a national search and agency pitch process that began in May. Before the process started, Air Canada had been working with its previous agency, Marketel, for 27 years.

Agency-client relationships with that much longevity are relatively rare; most marketers conduct agency review processes regularly. Those within the industry say that the relationship is becoming more commoditized than ever, with procurement departments putting budgetary squeezes on agencies, leading to further pressures.

This summer, L'Oreal Canada ended a 15-year relationship with its media planning and buying agency, Zenith Optimedia, moving the business to GroupM, having been asked by head office to do an agency review after years without one.

The firm Mindshare will handle Air Canada's media planning and buying. Both JWT and Mindshare are owned by ad agency holding giant WPP.

"JWT's global network and international solutions are solid complements to Air Canada's business strategy, which increasingly is focusing on international markets as a source of growth," Craig Landry, Vice President of Marketing at Air Canada, said in a statement.

The relationship with JWT officially begins in January.

Marketel president Jacques Duval said in an interview Thursday that the move will result in the loss of about 30 in-house jobs and another 70 positions related to freelancers and suppliers.

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"This really hurts," he said.

"I don't blame them [Air Canada]," he added, saying the ad business is increasingly consolidated and global.

Air Canada is retaining Marketel for other project-based work, he added.

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