Cigna Reviews Creative, Media

Cigna is reviewing creative and media duties on its advertising account, a year after dialing down its marketing efforts and reassessing its positioning in the marketplace.

Last year, Cigna’s major media spending in the U.S. dwindled to $747,000, after totaling $2.7 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. Going forward, Cigna is expected to ramp up spending to about $20 million, according to sources.

The company’s last major campaign, from Omnicom Group’s Doremus in New York, broke in July 2008 and featured print and TV ads and a new Web site. The tagline was, “It’s time to feel better.”

After that effort, Cigna “began to reevaluate its competitive posture,” the healthcare company explained, in a request for information distributed to interested agencies. “Cigna has used the last year to reposition the company and is seeking an innovative, effective marketing communications partner to help us reinvigorate the Cigna brand.”

Doremus, which landed creative and media duties on Cigna in early 2008, is expected to participate in the review. The agency declined to comment, referring questions to the client, which acknowledged the search today.

“Cigna has contacted a select number of advertising agencies that are to bid to become Cigna’s [lead agency], effective 2011,” a company representative said, in a statement. “These agencies were specifically selected to bid based on an extensive criteria designed to ensure that they have the scale, scope and creativity to fully serve a leading global health service company.”
Agency responses to the RFI were due back last week. The rep declined to say how many agencies responded or discuss the remaining steps in the process.

Among the key decision-makers at Cigna are svp and chief marketing officer Benjamin Karsch; Elizabeth Henry, vp of enterprise branding; and Mia Sullivan, director of brand management and marketing services.

Karsch joined Cigna in early 2009, succeeding then acting CMO Michael Showalter. Showalter remains in his core role of vp for M&A strategy.

Before Cigna, Karsch was corporate vp of marketing at the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Earlier in his career, he held brand management roles at Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and Johnson & Johnson.

Cigna, which has dual headquarters in Philadelphia and Bloomfield, Conn., posted global revenue of $18.4 billion last year, according to the RFI.

Cigna’s search follows another by competitor Aetna, which hired Havas’ Arnold for lead creative duties in June.

The other finalist in Aetna’s review was Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York. Arnold succeeded the New York office of WPP Group’s Grey on the business.