Aetna Makes Moves to Trim Agency Roster

Health-care Giant Looks to Consolidate Media, Direct and Digital Duties With Single Shop

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Health-care giant Aetna has launched an agency review with an eye towards consolidating the number of shops that handle media-buying and planning, direct marketing and digital duties, multiple industry executives told Ad Age .

The company currently works with Havas' Arnold on creative, which is not part of this review, and it hired Weber Shandwick late last year as its PR agency.

The remainder of Aetna's marketing duties are currently divided up among a number of firms. Among them: Philadelphia-based Harmelin, which supports media buying and planning and handles various digital tasks for the brand; and WPP's G2, which handles direct marketing for Aetna Medicare, as well as various b-to-b efforts and media for Aetna AARP.

Agencies either declined to comment or could not be immediately reached. Boston-based Pile & Company, which is handling the review process, did not respond to a request for comment, and neither did representatives for Aetna.

It's understood that the digital scope of the review includes elements of direct response, search marketing and social media.

Spending on the account is expected to spike. The insurer spent around $27 million on U.S. measured media in 2010, according to Kantar, but executives close to this review said the request-for-proposal document noted that Aetna's listing media spend of around $100 million.

The review and consolidation comes as the health-care industry deals with new marketing regulations and heightened competition among insurers as a result of the "Affordable Care Act." It also follows the rollout of Aetna's new logo and brand refresh, which positions it as a "health-solutions company," vs. an insurance company.

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