Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts last week shifted its ad account to Holland Mark Martin Edmund following a quiet review of Boston shops.
Ten-year incumbent Arnold Communications resigned the account just days before the client issued a press release saying it had hired Holland Mark after a review.
To take on the business, Holland Mark has resigned the ad account of Delta Dental in Medford, Mass., said agency president Chris Colbert.
Delta officials could not be reached by press time, and it could not be determined whether the client would call an agency review or move its business to another shop.
For Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Holland Mark will take the next "three or four months to develop a '98 marketing plan," Colbert said. Campaigns next year will be "part brand building and some product communications," he said. An integrated approach including multimedia executions, broadcast ads and direct response marketing is expected, he said.
The account billed as much as $7-9 million several years ago at Arnold but had shrunk to less than $1 million, with virtually no new ads produced by the Boston shop this year, said Arnold chairman and chief executive officer Ed Eskandarian.
Left on the sidelines in the review was Ingalls Advertising in Boston, which six months ago was tapped by the then-troubled insurer to produce a newspaper campaign supporting its efforts to get state approval for a proposed rate hike. Ingalls was not involved in pitching the business, said agency representative David Swaebe.
One other agency believed to have been contacted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield was Boston-based Clarke Goward. Its sister agency, Clarke & Co., handles public relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Agency executives did not return calls.
Arnold's decision was made for several reasons, sources said. Among them were a decline in spending and the hiring of new executives who "know much about politics but very little about marketing," one source said.
Industry observers saw Arnold's resignation of the account as a pre-emptive move to being fired. Sources close to Eskandarian, however, said he has been "bristling" to resign the account since Ingalls was tapped for the newspaper campaign.