AETNA $35 MIL HEALTH ACC'T TO MCKINNEY AS LEAD SHOP: WAYLON STAYS BUT ROLE NOT SET YET; MEDIA STILL BEING DISCUSSED

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Aetna/US Healthcare has awarded McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., the leading agency role for its estimated $35 million healthcare account.

McKinney is sharing the healthcare assignment with incumbent Waylon Co., St. Louis. Waylon is working on a fall campaign; McKinney's first effort is expected to break later this year or early in 1999.

The role of the two agencies has yet to be fully delineated, according to Rob Apatoff, senior VP-marketing for Aetna.

"We're still in the process of structuring that," said Mr. Apatoff, adding that the insurer decided to go with two shops because both gave strong presentations.

HEALTHCARE IS FOCUS

Healthcare advertising is increasingly important for Aetna because the insurer is building a U.S. focus on HMOs and other managed-care plans. Aetna sold off $50 billion of life insurance policies to Lincoln National Corp. last month as part of this effort to focus on healthcare.

McKinney beat out Angotti , Thomas, Hedge, New York; Bronner Slosberg Humphrey, Boston; and two other undisclosed agencies.

It's expected that Waylon will handle more promotion-related work with the addition of McKinney as lead agency.

McKinney CEO Don Maurer said the handling of media buying is still in discussions.

NEW MANAGEMENT SPURS AGENCY

Separate from the healthcare business, Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, handles corporate and retirement-service advertising for Aetna, which spent a total of $63 million last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. That business was not included in the healthcare review.

This win marks the first time McKinney's relatively new management team all were involved in the same pitch. The team included Mr. Maurer, Senior VP-Executive Creative Director David Baldwin, Director of Account Planning Lesley Murray and Senior VP-Group Account Director Mark Schofield.

"There's been a lot of evolution if you look at what has happened over the last 18 months," said Mr. Maurer, citing not only the expansion in management but also its acquisition by CKS Group, Cupertino, Calif., last year.

Vice Chairman C. Anthony Wainwright, who joined the agency in April 1997, initiated the original contact with the new client.

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