Goodbye 'Corner of Happy & Healthy.' Walgreens Rebrands as Rival CVS Scoops Up Aetna

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This isn't Walgreens' first rodeo. Despite potential new rivals (ahem, Amazon) and a changing competitive landscape (CVS said Sunday it will pay $69 billion to acquire Aetna), the drugstore chain has been around for more than a century. That history is the message behind Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens' rebranding, which is rolling out this week. The new tagline "Walgreens. Trusted since 1901" will be featured in a series of digital vignettes.

"We're listening to what consumers told us about what they felt was at the heart of the brand—when Walgreens has been at its best," says Adam Holyk, senior VP and chief marketing officer, a six-year Walgreens veteran who was promoted to the top marketing role earlier this year. He notes consumers specifically mentioned the brand as a trusted expert in pharmaceuticals, its delivery of care by staffers, and its accessibility both in physical stores and online.

The new tagline will replace "At the Corner of Happy & Healthy." In a new spot to introduce the marketing change, Walgreens provides a timeline of brand highlights, like when it launched child-resistant caps in 1968, 24-hour pharmacies in 1983 and prescription refills by scan in 2011. "At Walgreens, how we care will change over time, but why we care remains the same," per a voiceover at the end of the 30-second video. Holyk says the new marketing will eventually expand to the 2,000 Rite Aid locations Walgreens is in the process of acquiring, a $4.4 billion deal that was approved in September.

Emphasizing its century-deep history of meeting health care needs for consumers is something that could differentiate Walgreens, a $111.4 billion company, from newer competitors. Last month, reports surfaced that Amazon may enter the healthcare business after filing for pharmaceutical licenses in a dozen states.

"In this age of consumerism where people are playing an increasingly active role in their own health, healthcare companies have been evolving to focus on consumer needs," says Becky Chidester, CEO of Wunderman Health, a digital agency that has several pharmaceutical and health insurance clients. "Amazon is certainly one catalyst accelerating this transformation and putting pressure on more traditional players." She adds that a lot of marketing will be focused on customers and how each brand can better serve consumers in an increasingly confusing healthcare landscape.

WPP-owned Grey New York handled the new marketing for Walgreens. In January, the drugstore chain chose WPP for its global advertising account after a year of review. Last year, Walgreens spent $577 million on all its advertising, according to Ad Age Datacenter.

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