Anti-Smoking Account in Play

CHICAGO — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has contacted 11 agencies about its 10-year, $80-110 million anti-tobacco initiative, according to the consultant running the review.

Proposals are due back to Minnetonka, Minn., consultant Jan Apple by April 24. The client will whittle the list to five or six shops before making site visits in early May, Apple said. A decision is expected by July 1.

Though the anti-smoking effort will be limited to Minnesota, shops outside the state have been solicited and are expected to participate, Apple said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s general advertising is handled by Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, which has been invited into the review, Apple said. She declined to say who else had been asked.

Though the program is funded for 10 years, the contract up for review might not last that long, Apple said.

Sources said that while an anti-tobacco message is the main thrust of the assignment, ads may also address related illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

The program is financed by a portion of the $6.6 billion settlement that the state and insurer-joint plaintiffs in a lawsuit-made with tobacco companies in 1998. It would be the third such initiative financed via the settlement.

The state already has two anti-smoking programs financed through its settlement portion. One is a $5 million annual account aimed at adults. A second is a $6 million annual teen effort. Both are handled by Clarity Coverdale Fury, Minneapolis.

CCF broke its first TV teen ads last month. The work shows a fictional tobacco executive unable to keep a straight face while claiming “tobacco companies want to be part of the solution” to the teen-smoking problem.