Secure Horizons, a wholly owned division of PacifiCare Health Systems, has launched a search for an agency to handle its $11 million account, according to sources.
The Cypress, Calif.-based client issued questionnaires to six Southern California agencies late last week, sources said. The incumbent, Houston Helm & Co. in Los Angeles, has been invited to defend the account.
"We have not yet made a determination [on whether or not to defend]," said Houston Helm president Greg Helm. "We have a meeting scheduled [this week] with [Secure Horizons], the outcome of which will help us make that decision."
The agency has worked on the business since 1992.
The review is being handled by Peter Kay, director of corporate communications at Santa Ana, Calif.-based PacifiCare. Kay confirmed the review late last week.
Secure Horizons' previous advertising has consisted of direct response TV, direct mail, sales meetings and community events. A letter accompanying the questionnaire said the senior managed healthcare division is seeking a full-service shop with image-building capabilities. The questionnaire is due back to the client by April 16, and the client will then meet with selected shops to view agency case presentations. Finalists will make presentations soon after, with a decision expected by June 1.
Secure Horizons currently offers its health insurance in 11 states, and has franchise relationships in two of those. The company intends to expand nationally in 1999, when changes in Medicare laws will allow insurance providers to exist in states that do not supply commercial health plans.
Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles, handles PacifiCare Health Systems' estimated $4 million account, which is not part of the review. Billings have dwindled on that business, stagnating the account, according to sources.