Erwin-Penland defeated two other South Carolina agencies to secure the advertising account of HealthFirst. Annual billings, estimated at $1 million, are expected to increase over time.
The other two finalists were Henderson Advertising in Greenville and C.C. Riggs in Columbia.
Erwin-Penland (E-P), also located in Greenville, will produce a branding campaign for the client. The agency will be responsible for all creative development, research, interactive marketing components as well as media planning and placement.
The client is a provider-owned health plan, whose corporate owners include the affiliated organizations of Anderson Medical Center, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and Greenville Hospital System.
"We did a lot of research about [health plans]," said E-P president Joe Erwin. "It's a topic most people don't want to deal with. They just want to be able to see their doctor and be taken care of. That will be the key to our message--that HealthFirst won't interfere with that doctor-patient relationship. That's not something all their competitors can necessarily say."
Though the HealthFirst campaign media mix will involve cable television, radio, outdoor and print, Erwin said there would be a strong direct mail segment. The latter messages will be directed at an important audience for the client: benefits managers and human resources personnel that approve organizational health plans.
"We are absolutely confident of Erwin-Penland's ability to create new, innovative strategies that will propel HealthFirst into the forefront of a growing field of competitive managed-case health plans," said client chief executive officer Ruth Shuck.
"We are excited to be working with a health plan like HealthFirst, and we're looking forward with much anticipation to telling their story," said Penland. "[The client] demonstrates great potential, and we're thrilled to work with them."