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KIRSHENBAUM WINS PRU'S $20 MIL HEALTHCARE ACC'T;BRANDING TO BE BIG CHALLENGE FOR PLAYER IN HOTLY COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

By Published on .

Prudential HealthCare Group selected Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners for its $20 million account, hoping the New York shop can create a distinct identity in the increasingly competitive and confusing healthcare marketplace.

"Basically, the question is how can we brand healthcare while still retaining the equity of the Prudential name," said agency co-Chairman Richard Kirshenbaum.

INSURANCE ACCOUNT UNDECIDED

Parent Prudential Insurance Co. of America is still considering what to do about its insurance advertising, a $40 million account resigned by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, three weeks ago.

The Kirshenbaum selection came despite the sudden departures last month of HealthCare Group CEO William P. Link and President Samuel Havens. HealthCare Group Chairman Arthur Ryan assumes the CEO title.

Also, the group recently lost two major managed-care accounts, AT&T Corp. and Bell Atlantic Corp., to U.S. Healthcare.

Kirshenbaum beat out finalists Mullen, Wenham, Mass., and Angotti, Thomas, Hedge, New York. The move is a consolidation of business from Larkin, Meeder & Schweidel, Dallas, and Noble Steed Associates, Lutherville, Md.

W.B. Doner & Co., Baltimore, keeps medicare business from Prudential HealthCare.

SNAP BACK FROM SNAPPLE

The win will go a long way in restoring health to Kirshenbaum, which has snared a few $5 million accounts already this year-including K'NEX toys and Maidenform lingerie-but needed to land a big one after losing the $40 million Snapple account in May.

The loss of that struggling Quaker Oats Co. brand resulted in about 20 employees being cut from the agency payroll. Earlier in '96, the agency lost two $10 million accounts, Keds Corp. and CNBC.

"It's an important win for us," Mr. Kirshenbaum agreed. "I think it's a rite of passage, showing we can lose a big account and bounce back with a new one."

The Prudential account gives Kirshenbaum total billings of about $160 million.

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