A Minimal Blues Spot

Holland Mark Bows First Work for Insurer

BOSTON–Holland Mark Martin Edmund’s inaugural television commercial for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts uses a stark, hyperrealistic approach.
The 30-second spot, now airing through Jan. 1, shows people in the waiting room of an urban hospital. There is no tagline, no music and no marketing hype–just close-ups of worried faces, shots of the room’s faded, forest-motif wallpaper and silence.
“Why do an ad if you’re not going to stand out?” asked Holland Mark creative director Bob Minihan. “We were trying to show the [plan] members’ point of view” and use those visuals to punctuate what it means to trust in a health plan, he said. The agency avoided the sentimental touches that often grace medical advertising, he added.
The spot, Blue Cross’ first in about a year, is “designed to reintroduce ourselves to the marketplace,” said client representative John Schoenbaum.
Melodie McDaniel, who directed the latest round of Miller Lite “Dick” commercials for Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis, directed the Blue Cross spot, which was shot in a Los Angeles hospital. Roger Baldacci wrote the copy, Scott O’Leary was the art director and Beverly Manchun served as agency producer.
The commercial is an “interim” spot airing through the health insurance industry’s open-enrollment period, Minihan said. Similarly themed radio and print ads may also appear in the next few weeks, and more TV work is scheduled for 1998, Minihan said. Budget levels for next year are still being planned, Schoenbaum said.
Holland Mark in Boston won the account after a review this summer. Prior to that, the business was handled for 10 years by crosstown rival Arnold Communications, which saw billings on the account peak at around $7-9 million before falling off in recent years to around $1 million.