Anti-Smoking Veterans Among Finalists for BCBS

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has selected six semifinalists in the review for its $80-110 million, 10-year anti-smoking advertising program.

Competing for the business are Arnold in San Francisco; BBDO and Carmichael Lynch, both in Minneapolis; Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami; Ground Zero, Los Angeles; and BVK, Milwaukee, said company representative Karl Oestreich.

Company executives will next visit the agencies in late May before making a cut to three or four finalists. Presentations for those agencies will be scheduled for late June, and a decision is expected by early July, Oestreich said.

The six shops bring considerable experience to the review. Arnold and Crispin jointly handle the American Legacy Foundation’s national “Truth” anti-smoking campaign, while Ground Zero and BBDO handle state-funded efforts for California and New Jersey, respectively. BVK handles anti-smoking work in Wisconsin, and CL is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minne sota’s general advertising agency.

“We were looking specifically for agencies that had experience in behavioral change,” Oestreich said. “In most cases, that included tobacco and healthcare.”

The thrust of the assignment will be imparting an anti-smoking message. However, sources have indicated that advertising is also expected to address related illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

The program is financed through a $6.6 billion settlement that the state and the insurer—joint plaintiffs in a lawsuit—made with tobacco companies in 1998. It would be the third initiative financed via the settlement.

Minnesota already has two anti-smoking programs financed through its portion of the settlement. One is a $5 million annual account aimed at adults, the other a $6 million annual teen-focused effort. Both are handled by Clarity Coverdale Fury in Minneapolis.