Aetna Talking Account to Shops

Aetna, under new management and undergoing a restructuring, has contacted shops about its estimated $40-50 million account, sources said.

Aetna has been working with McKinney & Silver in Raleigh, N.C., and Waylon Ad in St. Louis for two years. It is not known if these shops are part of the current agency search.

Waylon officials said they were working on a fourth-quarter campaign for Aetna but declined further comment. McKinney & Silver, which handles Aetna U.S. Healthcare, also declined comment.

In late 1998, Waylon added Aetna’s $20 million corporate and retirement-services account, formerly at Ammirati Puris Lintas. Corporate work in 1999 was an effort to rebrand Aetna as a managed healthcare and investment-services company.

Earlier this month, Dr. John Rowe became president and CEO of Aetna U.S. Healthcare. Sources said the company will name a new marketing chief, Sal Uglietta, who has served with the company in other roles.

Uglietta and other marketing officials at Aetna U.S. Healthcare’s Blue Bell, Pa., office could not be reached. Aetna is headquartered in Hartford, Conn.

The company is poised to sell off its financial-services and international businesses, maintaining its healthcare operation under the Aetna name.

While sources said the business Aetna is contacting shops about is valued at $40-50 million, insiders also said the company’s restructuring could result in cuts to the ad budget, bringing that outlay into the $25-30 million range.

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