CDHS Readies Anti-Smoking RFP

California Moves to Make Application Process Easier for Shops
LOS ANGELES–The California Department of Health Services’ Tobacco Control Section is preparing to release requests for proposals for its statewide ad account, currently handled by Asher & Partners. The five-year contract is worth an estimated $25 million annually.
The RFP is due out next week. The application process has been altered to make it easier for agencies, according to Colleen Stevens, chief of tobacco media campaigns for the Sacramento-based governmental agency.
“We talked to agencies about what they saw as the hurdles in the process,” she said. The RFP itself is shorter and more straightforward, and the CDHS is also emphasizing increased communication with agencies, including visiting the participating shops, she said.
Most important, perhaps, are the revised guidelines regarding conflicts of interest. The CDHS issued a mandatory RFP last summer, but only Los Angeles-based Asher and Runyon, Saltzman & Einhorn in Sacramento qualified under the stringent guidelines. The contract was renewed with Asher for a year while the CDHS revised the application process.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies has worked closely with the state to simplify the process, according to Jerry Gibbons, evp of the 4A’s. “We’re hoping other state agencies follow the CDHS’ lead,” he said.
Asher has handled the account since 1994, and has produced award-winning work. “We are very proud of our successes over the past seven years and fully intend to vigorously defend the business,” said Barry Schoenfeld, partner/
director of business development at the agency.
Agencies outside the state are invited to participate, but must have an office in California. The contract begins Oct. 1.
–with David Lipi