Kaiser Starts Its Direct Review

Kaiser Permanente has started a search for a single agency at which to consolidate an estimated $15-20 million in direct marketing duties.
The Oakland, Calif.-based health management organization is again using consultant Richard Roth of Richard Roth Associates in Chappaqua, N.Y., for the search, which had been planned since last year [Adweek, Oct. 20, 1997]. Roth handled Kaiser’s corporate image agency review, which ended in January.
“We are looking at all types of agencies for this business,” said JoEllyn Savage, national director of member and marketing communications for Kaiser. “We want to stress that all agencies interested in this review must directly contact [Mr. Roth],” she said. He “has been in touch with several agencies for us.”
Eight shops currently handle direct marketing for Kaiser on a regional basis. The client, however, is leaning toward a national approach, so most of them are not big enough to participate in the review, Roth said. Roth left open the possibility that some of them may retain parts of the business, however.
About six shops will be invited to present credentials in early April, Savage said. The list will then be cut to three. A final decision is expected later that month.
Savage said the winning agency will be responsible for “developing broadcast creative for direct response advertising purposes.” The efforts will focus on Kaiser’s individual health insurance and Medicare-related services, she said.
In January, Grey Advertising in New York beat finalists Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, for Kaiser’s estimated $20-25 million corporate image account. Roth denied reports from sources that Kaiser was unhappy with Grey and may put the image account in play again. In fact, Roth said Grey is participating in the direct pitch, but he declined to name any other contenders.
Kaiser reported that it lost $270 million in 1997. Membership, however, rose 19.8 percent to 8.9 million last year.
–with staff reports