Healthcare Campaigns Seeking to Steer Debate

Two new healthcare issue ad campaigns broke last week as interest groups look to influence the current healthcare debate in Congress and shape the political climate for the 2000 elections.
The Coalition for Affordable Quality Healthcare, which includes major insurers such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, launched a two-year, $10.5 million TV campaign touting the benefits of HMOs.
Created by Waylon Ad in St. Louis, the spots use testimonials from managed-care doctors to counter “a perception that physicians are not favorably disposed toward managed care,” said Roger Bolton, chairman of the coalition.
The spots take the tone of consumer commercials. “They didn’t want them to look like political campaign ads,” said Kipp Monroe, creative director at Waylon.
The agency proposed using doctors in support of managed care in its successful pitch for the business.
“Consumer focus groups said they’d listen to their doctors. When their doctors tell them managed care is all right, then they’ll start to believe it,” Monroe said.
“We felt there was no more compelling way of telling the story,” he said.
Waylon, corporate agency of record for Aetna Inc., was awarded the coalition’s account in January following a review. The campaign is aimed at “opinion leaders”–those who vote and those who are involved in their communities, Monroe said. Media is skewed toward news programs, including 60 Minutes.
Separately, a campaign from The American Association of Health Plans, a trade association, is geared to slam Democratic proposals to strengthen patient rights in managed-care plans.
Using creative from The Murphy Pintak Gautier Hudome Agency in Falls Church, Va., the ad, “Smoke,” suggests trial lawyers would be the only ones to benefit from expanded healthcare liability laws.