Aetna Eyes Makeover

Aetna Inc., a company whose new management team is attempting to improve performance in a dramatically changing industry, has contacted several shops about its estimated $50 million account, sources said.

The incumbents are McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., and Waylon Ad in St. Louis. Waylon executives said they were working on a fourth-quarter campaign for Aetna but declined further comment. McKinney & Silver officials declined comment.

Ad budgets through the late 1990s were in the $60 million range, per Competitive Media Reporting.

Waylon became involved with Aetna through U.S. Healthcare in Blue Bell, Pa., an existing account. USH was acquired by Aetna in 1996 to form Aetna U.S. Healthcare.

Marketing chief Robert Apatoff left Aetna earlier this year and is now a senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Allstate.

In 1998, Waylon picked up the $20 million corporate and retirement services account of Aetna Inc., formerly at Ammirati Puris Lintas. Its ads attempted to rebrand Aetna, a traditional insurance carrier, as a managed healthcare and investment services company. Aetna sold off its life insurance operations in 1998.

Earlier this month, Dr. John W. Rowe became president and chief executive officer of Aetna U.S. Healthcare. Rowe, a gerontologist, was previously president and CEO of Mount Sinai NYU Health. Sources said Sal Uglietta has been named vice president of marketing.

The company is poised to sell off its financial services and international businesses. Sources said the restructuring could lower the ad budget to $25-30 million.