California Healthcare Exchange Dangles Its $50 Million Account

Review is in its early stages

Covered California, the state's healthcare exchange, is looking for an agency to help expand the pool of residents enrolled in health insurance coverage.

A request for proposals for exchange's advertising account indicates a media budget of $50 million, which is slightly less than in each of the past two years when Covered California was introduced.

Units of Interpublic Group currently handle the business led by Weber Shandwick which contracts advertising to The Axis Agency (general market ads), IW Group (ads directed at Asian-Americans) and Identity Media (media planning and buying). The team's contract expires June 30. (Weber Shandwick isn't commenting on whether it will participate in the RFP process.)

Agency replies to Covered California's RFP are due Tuesday. Last week the state hosted an RFP bidders' conference, which attracted executives from 25 agencies. (Attendance was not required to submit a response.)

Covered California promoted its most recent open enrollment period with a campaign tagged, "I'm In," which featured real people whose lives improved once they got the healthcare they needed via the exchange. Past efforts included "Welcome to Answers" ads, which explained where, when and how to enroll.

The exchange's media mix has included TV, radio, print, out-of-home, social, digital, search, direct mail, email and collateral. Currently, Covered California is promoting its special enrollment period through radio, digital and search.

This is the second major California advertising opportunity to pop up in the last six months, after the California Travel & Tourism Commission, which spends $26 million in media annually. In that review, incumbents MeringCarson and Carat retained the business.