Beverly Hospital last week named five semifinalists in the review for its advertising account.
In the hunt are Cronin/Wallwork Curry, Fort Franklin and Kelliher Samets Volk, all in Boston, Hagg-man of Manchester, Mass., and Duffy & Shanley in Providence, R.I.
Consultancy Pile and Co., Boston, is overseeing the search. Finalists will be named early next month, with a decision expected shortly thereafter.
Spending has not been disclosed, but sources estimated the budget at $500,000-1 million.
Despite the modest budget, more than a dozen agencies, including several outside New England, expressed interest in pitching, sources said.
The turnout to pursue a local hospital stemmed mainly from the sluggish economy, combined with the fact that the client is viewed as a good creative opportunity and a "safe" account in terms of long-term budget and stability, sources said.
Beverly Hospital has been with KPC/Christopher Thomas of Bos-ton for three years. In July, the agency launched print ads, themed "Advanced medicine made easy," for the client. Additional efforts are set to break this month.
The client's impending departure will not precipitate any cuts in KPC/Christopher Thomas' 15-person local staff, according to Leo Rice, president of its Boston office.
Incumbents, especially of long standing, are usually invited to participate in reviews conducted by Pile, but Rice said his shop was never involved in the process. Management changes at the client at least in part led to the review, he said.
Client officials, including marketing director Lisa Burzynski, did not return calls at press time last week.
Also driving the review is the desire by hospital management to portray the Beverly, Mass., facility as more of a full-service healthcare provider, with more than 600 physicians and specialties including maternity, pediatrics, cardiology, behavioral health and long-term care, sources said.
Helping the North Shore medical center compete against better-known facilities in nearby Boston will be a main mission for upcoming ads, sources said.
The client has told agencies that their ability to present "something different" in terms of creative approaches is as important as a track record of building local brands and having experience with health-related clients, sources said.