Portions of WellPoint Account Up for Grabs

Health-Insurance Giant's Review to Cover Advertising, Direct Marketing

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Health insurer WellPoint has placed portions of its advertising account into review, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The Indianapolis-based behemoth -- formed in 2004 through the merger of WellPoint Health Networks and Anthem and now the largest health-benefits company in the nation by membership (it has nearly 35 million members) -- has reached out to a number of agencies with requests for proposals to handle duties including advertising, brand strategy and direct-marketing, the executives said.

In mid-2005, WellPoint awarded its account to Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco. A representative for Hal Riney referred calls to the client. A representative for WellPoint declined to comment.

Reorganizing business operations
The agency review comes as the insurer gets accustomed to new leadership (in June, Angela Braly took the helm as president-CEO) and undergoes a reorganization of its business operations and a flurry of executive changes.

Last month WellPoint announced it would divide its commercial- and consumer-health-insurance sectors into separate units and also created a health-solutions division.

Earlier this year WellPoint made headlines after its former chief financial officer, David Colby, was suddenly forced to resign due to an undisclosed violation of the company's code of conduct.

WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves members in several markets including California and New York. The company spent $14 million on U.S. measured media in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

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Contributing: Alice Cuneo
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