Online Exclusive: Account Action

PUBLICIS & HAL RINEY WINS WELLPOINT ADVERTISING ACCOUNT

Beat Out Three WPP 'Best of Class' Teams

By Published on .

SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- WellPoint, the nation's largest health insurer, has awarded its advertising account to Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, two executives familiar with the review said.
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Up to $70 million
Billings for the account could range from $20 million if it is limited to just corporate branding, or to as much as $70 million if it includes local advertising currently in hands of the company's state organizations.

Hal Riney won the pitch against three WPP Group agencies, each of which fielded an integrated "best of class" team from across network offices. Y&R Cos. and Grey Worldwide, both San Francisco, and Ogilvy & Mather, Culver City, Calif., headed up their respective teams' efforts.

In an earlier round, the incumbent, independent RPA, Santa Monica, Calif., was eliminated, as was Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Los Angeles, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, San Francisco.

Calls to the marketer were not returned by deadline.

Big boost
The win is a big boost for Hal Riney and its new chairwoman-CEO, Karen C. Francis. Since the agency's 2002 loss of General Motors Corp.'s Saturn account, the shop, under three different leaders, was unable to snag a new automotive assignment -- and the multimillion-dollar business that goes along with such accounts -- after participating in the reviews for Kia Motors America, sibling Hyundai Motor America, and Mitsubishi Motors North America. Last month, the agency won the business-to-business marketing and other assignments for the soon-to-be-merged Sprint/Nextel brand. But it lost the anticipated $500 million launch assignment to Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York. ( TBWA is Nextel's ad agency; Riney is Sprint's agency).

$16.5 billion merger
WellPoint's new national account was created as a result of the $16.5 billion merger last November of WellPoint Health Networks and Anthem. The company holds licenses for Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and covers 28 million subscribers. Its coverage extends through California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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

Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., handled the review.

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