Allstate hands long-term task to WS; H&K hangs onto project work

NORTHBROOK, IL: Allstate Insurance has selected Weber Shandwick to handle its corporate positioning. The assignment is for three years.

NORTHBROOK, IL: Allstate Insurance has selected Weber Shandwick to handle its corporate positioning. The assignment is for three years.

Hill & Knowlton, which had been the insurer's agency of record, will continue to handle project work for Allstate but will no longer serve as its AOR. The client is not using the "agency of record" title for WS, saying it will now utilize a "multi-agency approach."

Allstate conducted an extensive agency review process during the second half of 2003. Finalists included WS, H&K, and Edelman. The company routinely reviews vendor relationships.

Allstate used a review team that included procurement officers and communications execs to consider PR candidates, explained Peter Debreceny, VP for corporate relations.

Procurement was "a close partner with us all the way through," he said, but added "we're not making the decision on economic grounds."

WS will handle the account from its Chicago office. The number of staff that will work on the Allstate business is still being determined, said Daniel Reid, EVP and GM, financial services, with WS. The agency will involve its corporate, financial services, consumer, and issues management practices in servicing the account.

H&K, which worked for Allstate for more than three years, had as many as 10 employees in its Chicago office working on the account. Prior to the recession, Allstate was spending more than $1 million annually on outside PR.

While it has had budget cutbacks in the current downturn, Chicago PR sources speculated that the account would continue to generate a seven-figure fee in coming years.

Allstate has been trying to reposition itself in recent years as a personal financial services provider. It hopes to become a bigger player in the insurance arena while also broadening the range of financial services that it offers.

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