Blue Shield of California May Unbundle Creative, Media Portions of Its Account



SAN FRANCISCO – As the review for its $12-million account gets underway, Blue Shield of California appears to be considering unbundling the creative and media portions of advertising.
Blue Shield would not comment, but sources close to the process said the company is exploring several options, including pairing a media buying service with a creative boutique. S.F. contenders include media buying firms Hawk Media and KSL Media of California; creative boutiques Mandelbaum Mooney Ashley, Katsin/Loeb and Headlands Communications; and full-service agencies Ketchum, Hal Riney & Partners and Saatchi & Saatchi/Pacific as well as incumbent Coleman & Christison, these sources said.
Initial presentations will begin early this month, and a final decision is expected in June.
The healthcare industry has shifted from traditional fee-for-service providers to managed care programs such as HMOs and PPOs and competition has grown particularly fierce. In the last 10 years, membership in California HMOs has tripled, and ad spending statewide has at least doubled to $60 million from $30 million in the past two years alone according to industry sources.
Slow to move into managed care, Blue Shield has recently targeted the area aggressively, said Peter Boland of Boland Healthcare Inc., a consultancy in Berkeley, Calif. ‘They are not a leader in this new market,’ he said.
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