Neighborhood Switches to Argus

Neighborhood Health Plan last week selected Argus Communications for its estimated $1 million advertising account.

Argus, an eight-person Boston shop specializing in multicultural marketing, overcame crosstown shops R&D Advertising and Wallwork & Curry in the final round of a review. Wallwork was the incumbent on the account and had worked for Neighborhood for the past eight years.

Bob Curry, co-chairman of the 21-person agency, wished Argus well with the business and said it has not been determined if the loss will precipitate layoffs at his shop. Wallwork & Curry is coming off a disappointing year in 2000 that saw revenue dip almost 9 percent to $5.1 million while billings drop-ped 12 percent to $37 million.

Neighborhood Health, Boston, an HMO with 120,000 members statewide, made it clear from the outset that it was seeking a shop with a strong commitment to multiculturalism.

“Argus impressed us with their understanding of our market,” said Jim Hooley, Neighborhood’s president and CEO.

“We thought they’d be the perfect fit. We’ve done a lot of work related to health,” said Argus creative director Lucas Guerra.

Argus is perhaps best known for its 1990s efforts for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program. That work included a TV spot for the Quitline telephone counseling service that featured a woman walking along a crowded street as a voiceover explained how difficult it is to stop smoking. As the woman entered her office, she is revealed to be a Quitline counselor.