Nicole O'Rourke

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Grappling with soaring medical costs continues to be a top priority for employers, which now more than ever need straight talk from health insurers about their options. For Nicole O'Rourke, VP-advertising & brand management at Aetna Inc., the insurer's "We Want You to Know" campaign is an effective vehicle to that end.

"We're very pleased with the marketplace results in terms of brand awareness and recognition among our target audiences," said O'Rourke, who helped to create the campaign. "We've had major breakthrough."

Ads for the campaign, which kicked off in January 2004, have been running in A-list business publications, such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, as well as regional business publications in the top 20 markets.

Aetna ads are also appearing in insurance titles such as National Underwriter Life & Health and Business Insurance (owned by Crain Communications Inc., as is BtoB) as well as publications targeting the insurance brokerage and consultant communities. "They're a key part of our sales channel, so it's important they understand our messaging," O'Rourke said.

In addition, radio spots are airing in select markets. The budget for the campaign, which was created by Grey Worldwide, New York, was not disclosed.

One ad features a batch of fortune cookies, with one fortune spooling out of a cookie that partially reads "...will soon pay off." The copy next to the picture says: "People look to a number of sources to help them make their health care choices. Some are better than others. At Aetna, we provide our members with the information they need to make better decisions."

O'Rourke has put together a series of events designed to leverage the print ads, including Women in Business-2005, slated for next month in Washington, D.C., and Healthcare Issues Facing Employers Today, scheduled for December in Hartford, Conn.

O'Rourke said Aetna's events add value to the print campaign. "None of us wins if people can't understand our products, our markets and our information," she said.

Prior to joining Aetna in 2001, O'Rourke was director of global brand development for Johnson & Johnson's consumer pain relief brands. She's a trustee of the Marketing Science Institute and has been named one of the top 30 executive women in advertising for four years running by the National Association of Female Executives.

-Matthew Schwartz

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