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$70 MILLION WELLPOINT AD ACCOUNT IN REVIEW

Health Care Insurance Giant Has 28 Million Subscribers

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurance company, has begun a review for its consolidated advertising account, according to executives familiar with the situation.
WellPoint is the country's largest health insurance company.

A number executives involved in the review said the budget could range from $20 million if only corporate marketing is considered to as much as $70 million if local efforts are included.

A number of agencies work on the account, the spokeswoman said. Among them is independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., agency for Honda Motor Co.

A WellPoint spokesperson declined to disclose the account's billings. One executive familiar with the account said WellPoint has a corporate marketing group, but state groups control budgets.

$20.8 billion
Headquartered in Indianapolis, WellPoint is the result of the Nov. 30, 2004, merger of WellPoint Health Networks and Anthem in a $16.5 billion deal. The joint companies' 2004 revenue totaled $20.8 billion.

A statement from Susan Cotton, senior vice president for corporate marketing and brand management said was agency review was initiated as a result of the merger and that "WellPoint procurement is in the process of evaluation our relationships with vendors (throughout) our enterprise."

28 million members
WellPoint is the country's largest publicly traded commercial health benefits company, with licenses for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association brands. It has 28 million members and its coverage extends through California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, WellPoint spent $13 million in measured media in 2004. Anthem spent $4.4 million.

Select Resources International, West Hollywood, Calif., is handling the review.

WellPoint recently launched an aggressive healthcare plan aimed at 20 year olds. The policy, with premiums as low as $64, has a $5,000 deductible and doesn't cover pregnancy. A number of health care watchdogs were critical of the plan, alleging it was designed only to cover a rarely sick "young invincible" market.

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