Two shops are preparing for final presentations in a review of creative duties for Aetna, sources said.
The pitches are scheduled for next week at the client's headquarters in Hartford, Conn. The agencies could not be identified.
A client representative confirmed that Aetna is "meeting with several ad agencies regarding a corporate branding assignment," but declined further comment.
The assignment includes traditional and online advertising, including social media efforts. Aetna plans to ramp up media spending behind such efforts -- from $15 million in the fall to $35 million next year, $45 million in 2012 and $55 million in 2013, according to the company's initial request for proposals.
Not in play are direct marketing duties, now at the G2 unit of WPP Group's Grey in New York, and media planning and buying, at independent Harmelin Media in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
The review comes as Aetna looks to reposition its brand in the wake of the federal healthcare legislation that Congress passed last month.
"Aetna enjoys strong name awareness, but the brand is relatively undifferentiated," the company stated in its RFP. "The category is complex, healthcare reform is on the horizon and the industry is under a dark cloud. Aetna's way forward is a business strategy that will leverage its awareness strength and transform the brand from its current B2B focus into a relevant and compelling consumer brand leader."