Pollak’s Powertel Run Ends

Powertel has discontinued its relationship with Pollak Levitt & Nel Advertising, choosing Martin/Williams Advertising to handle its $25-30 million account after a six-week review.
Client officials said the Minneapolis shop’s overall approach to brand building while managing a large retail account helped it land the the wireless telecom’s business over the Atlanta incumbent and Carmichael Lynch, also in Minneapolis.
“We have to balance building a brand with [selling] the promotions that are going on on the retail side,” said Mike Bashaw, Powertel’s vice president of marketing and product development. “We’re not the easiest account to manage, and you have to be able to turn on a dime.”
The West Point, Ga., company wanted to keep its business in its 12-state territory, but found M/W’s “well-balanced organization,” from planning to media, distinguished it from the other contenders, Bashaw said. “The agencies in the Southeast didn’t stand out,” he said.
The review was conducted by The Bedford Group in Atlanta.
PL&N has been Powertel’s sole agency since its founding in 1995. The shop has seen the account grow to be nearly half of its $33 million in total billings. Chief executive officer Jim Pollak said no immediate layoffs were planned, adding his agency would serve the client through year’s end.
“My biggest concern is that people are going to get nervous and leave, and that’s going to leave us in a fix,” Pollak said.