PacifiCare Health Searching for Hispanic Agency

Less than a year after awarding its general-market account to Doner, PacifiCare Health Systems is looking for a shop to craft ads aimed at Hispanic consumers.

The review marks the first time the 26-year-old health-services company has moved to specifically target Hispanics with a sustained effort. The client, based in Santa Ana, Calif., currently spends about $20 million on general-market advertising and has earmarked about $2 million for the Hispanic campaign, sources said.

The review includes creative and media, as well as community relations and events, said Russell Bennett, vp of PacifiCare’s Latino Health Solutions initiative. Select Resources International in West Hollywood, Calif., is leading the review.

The client, which has been working to shed its image as strictly an HMO, consolidated its ad account this year at Doner in Southfield, Mich. Previously it had used more than a dozen agencies for projects.

RFPs were sent last week to at least 10 undisclosed Hispanic shops, mostly in Southern California, said SRI principal Russel Wohlwerth. Responses are due in mid-October. Three or four finalists will make presentations in early November. A decision is expected soon after.

“They’re looking for an agency that can do great work and provide good external intelligence, that has strong planning capabilities and a strong creative product,” Wohl werth said. “They don’t want to be a small fish in a big pond.”

Bennett, who joined the client in August after serving as executive director of the U.S./Mexico Border Health Commission, said he is looking for a shop with an “understanding of the healthcare sector and the health insurance industry.”

Bennett said 20 million Hispanics live in the eight states where PacifiCare operates—26 percent of the total population of those states. The company, he said, wants to address issues that are particularly pressing among Hispanics, such as diabetes, heart health and depression.

“It’s a huge market. It has its own disease characteristics as compared to the general market. It makes sense not to just advertise but to have a whole program working to make the Latino community more healthy,” Bennett said.

PacifiCare has 3.3 million members. It does not currently track how many of those are Hispanic.