Insurer Back on Air via McCann

Off the air for more than three years, Blue Shield of California is returning to advertising with a new look and brand approach in a state wide campaign from McCann-Erickson.

Ads for the insurance company are breaking now, with heavy play in such markets as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose. Spending on the campaign is $8 million.

The campaign features three 30-second TV spots as well as radio and print work.

In the first spot, a group of schoolchildren chase an ice cream truck. As they run down the street, phrases such as “Knee surgery at 22” and “First marathon at 29” flash onscreen. A voiceover suggests Blue Shield is with you for both good and bad experiences.

In another spot, a surfer is cutting through waves as phrases like “He’s allergic to cats” appear. A voiceover suggests the insurer helps members think about their health.

The third spot features a young girl in a bowling alley illuminated by strobe lights. All the spots plug the company’s Web site.

Irina Kozhevnikoff-Heirakuji, executive planning director at McCann, said the campaign is a step forward for the client, which has worked with the San Francisco agency since 1995.

Kozhevnikoff-Heirakuji said McCann wanted to ensure that Blue Shield was not seen as a faceless bureaucratic organization and that potential customers would sign up with them if given a choice. Many ads for insurers simply feature phone numbers and uninspiring visuals, she said.

“That’s what we really wanted to do … humanize the brand,” she said. “Blue Shield is more than the card you carry in your pocket.”

Agency creatives said the ads are also a way to show people engaging in the activities they enjoy the most—while emphasizing in the background that Blue Shield is always around.

McCann’s San Francisco office is best known as the shop that handles the $300-350 million Microsoft account.