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Service Is the Point for Powertel

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Campaign Positions Cellular Phone Brand Against Larger Players
CHICAGO--Martin/Williams touts the service offered by cellular communications company Powertel in its first advertising campaign since winning the $30 million account last year.
The print and television campaign breaking Feb. 29 in Powertel's Southeast U.S. service area employs the tagline, "We're on that." The line is intended to highlight the company's overall service ethic and distinguish the regional company from more well-known national players, said Mike Gray, director of business development for the Minneapolis agency.
"In the whole wireless arena, it's tough to out high-tech a national brand," said Gray. "In the research that we did, we saw there was an opportunity to highlight the service aspects of the company."
The current campaign moves away from the client's previous, more promotionally driven advertising by creating a fictional Powertel employee. The company worker goes to great lengths to demonstrate how the West Point, Ga.-based telecom addresses customers' needs, Gray said.
"Each commercial has a specific value point about the brand instead of an offer," Gray told Adweek.
In one television commercial, after a customer suggests a no- roaming policy for his cell phone company, the worker takes the customer to the zoo and frees all the animals. "All living things should roam free," the character says.
In another spot, the character steps back and forth over an area code boundary to tout the company's free long-distance service.
"People need to know that Powertel is approachable," said Mike Bashaw, Powertel's vice president of marketing and product development. "Humor is an excellent way to communicate."
Powertel's print and radio advertising will be more price-point and promotionally driven. One print piece features the character's picture and the lengthy headline: "Free bonus minutes. Free long distance. Free phone. I haven't had this much free time since I skipped gym class."
Powertel spent nearly $17 million on advertising through the first 11 months of last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Martin/Williams won the account last October after a review that included incumbent Pollak Levitt & Nel (now Pollak Levitt & Partners) in Atlanta and Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. K