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Deutsch's Waiting Game

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LA Cellular Ad Plans Unclear After Takeover
LOS ANGELES--Following a management takeover by AT&T, LA Cellular is considering a number of options for its $25 million ad account, currently handled by Deutsch LA.
In the coming months, the cellular phone company may move its business to Foote, Cone
& Belding, San Francisco (which handles AT&T Wireless' estimated $120 million account), split it up or keep part or all of it at Deutsch, said sources.
Executives at Deutsch in Marina del Rey, Calif., declined to comment.
"We've been very happy with Deutsch, and we look forward to a continued relationship," said Steve Crosby, vice president of external affairs at the Cerritos, Calif.-based client. "Yet at some point, there will be a transition." Deutsch's contract runs through the middle of next year, he added.
AT&T last month increased its ownership stake and took over management control of LA Cellular, a joint venture of AT&T Wireless and BellSouth Cellular. The LA Cellular brand name could be dropped, and the account could go with it, said sources.
While AT&T is keeping the name for now, "I would think we would [eventually] take advantage of one of the world's most powerful brands ... AT&T," said Crosby.
Deutsch won the account in May after a review [Adweek, May 18]. BBDO West, Los Angeles, previously handled the account, but chose not to defend.
Deutsch's ads show customers relating humorous LA Cellular experiences. One TV spot showed a transplanted New Yorker lamenting that Angelenos still recognize his accent. Volume is up by over 20 percent since the ads broke, said industry sources.
Deutsch recently scored its biggest win to date, taking over Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America's consolidated $250 million ad and marketing account.
--with Michael McCarthy