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Riney Wins WellPoint

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SAN FRANCISCO WellPoint Health Networks has chosen Publicis & Hal Riney for its ad account following a review, according to sources. Estimated billings are $35 million.

Publicis Groupe-owned Riney prevailed in a review over three WPP Group finalists: Young & Rubicam, Grey and Ogilvy & Mather. The latter pitched out of Culver City, Calif., the rest from their offices in San Francisco.

Riney will lead creative and strategic development; sister shops Starcom in Chicago and Publicis Dialog in San Francisco will respectively handle media and relationship marketing chores, sources said.

Select Resources International in Santa Monica, Calif., oversaw the review process.

The incumbent was Santa Monica-based independent RPA.

Agency and client executives either declined comment or could not be reached.

In 2004, WellPoint merged with Anthem to create one of the nation's largest managed healthcare providers [Adweek, April 19, 2004], comprising UniCare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield in several states. The companies spent a combined total of $35 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

A 2005 ad budget has not been disclosed. The client is located in Thousand Oaks, Calif.