Lofty Goals Spark $25 Mil. AARP Review

NEW YORK — The AARP’s review of its $25 million account comes as the national association attempts to reinvent itself for the next generation of retirees.

Last year, the Washington-based group launched a new magazine that targets baby boomers (My Generation) and named a new CEO: William Novelli, co-founder of public relations firm Porter Novelli, who has found a second career in public advocacy.

Now the AARP is taking on broader issues, such as the cost of healthcare, and needs a unified image. Sources indicated that the client is seeking an array of marketing services. Both creative and media duties are in play.

“We think we are going to be one of the great megabrands of the future,” said Novelli, “and we are looking for an agency partner that can help us get there.”

Incumbent GMMB in Washington has been invited to defend, Novelli said.

The client started contacting agencies several weeks ago, through MatchWorks, a New York-based consultancy. Among them are New York shops DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi, TBWA\Chiat\Day, Deutsch, and Merkley Newman

Harty & Partners; McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.; and Arnold, McLean, Va., said sources. Deutsch and Merkley declined to participate, according to sources. All either would not comment or could not be reached.

An initial “agency fact sheet” was due back to MatchWorks last week. The AARP plans to issue an RFP the week of June 10.

A key issue for the group, which claims 35 million members, is the cost of brand-name prescription drugs, which typically exceeds that of their generic equivalents. That issue may discourage some shops, such as those that work for pharmaceutical companies, from pursuing the business.

Recent AARP ad efforts have been designed to change behavior and drive membership.

A broadcast and print campaign that broke this month urged seniors to exercise more. It featured images of men and women jogging and swimming. The tagline: “Active for life.”