Highmark BCBS Conducting Agency Review

By Patrick Coffee 

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Today we learned that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the East Coast nonprofit that “dominat[es] the regional health insurance market” in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and surrounding areas, has issued an RFP and is in the process of conducting a formal agency review.

The organization’s current AOR is Mullen, and the account has been run out of Mullen’s Pittsburgh office for well over a decade. Even in 2003, Highmark had one of the largest marketing budgets of any local health care organization¬†with a $4.8M ad spend.

A spokesperson for Highmark tells us that, while the organization values its ongoing relationship with Mullen and has worked closely with the agency in the past, “the way we’re presented takes on greater importance” as “the health care landscape” and its attendant politics continue to shift. The company issued an RFP earlier this year “to assess a wide variety of agencies” and, while the review is not yet complete, Highmark anticipates “making [a decision] in the near future.”

We have no word on which agencies are involved in the ongoing review and Mullen did not respond to our multiple requests for comment. For context, one of the defending agency’s most prominent recent campaigns for the client involved highlighting its work as a supplier for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics.

Highmark’s primary competitor UPMC (that’s the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) has worked with Grey since 2010.

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