Partners Work Bleeds True Blue

Honesty Rules in Blue Cross & Blue Shield Consumer Campaign
BOSTON–Partners & Simons takes a radical departure in its first consumer push for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts, eschewing the evocative, ethereal campaigns of the recent past in favor of realistic TV spots featuring client employees.
The TV effort, which will include some 15 spots that have begun breaking statewide, “is meant to provide a window into the brand,” said Tony Cotrupi, account director at the Boston shop. “All the spots are designed to change perceptions of Blue Cross & Blue Shield.”
At times, Blue Cross has been hit hard in the local media over issues such as rate hikes, and the campaign represents an effort to combat negative press and redefine the brand, said Pat Hughes, the client’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We felt it was important to put the real faces of Blue Cross & Blue Shield out in the marketplace.”
Shot documentary-style at Blue Cross’ offices, each spot focuses on a different employee, including chairman William Van Faasen, a customer service representative, a doctor who answers questions on the client’s Web site and a worker in the organization’s printing plant.
Van Faasen doesn’t actually appear. He is heard in one spot explaining the new advertising approach, known internally as “Blue Cam,” via voicemail. He encourages staff to make themselves available when the camera comes around.
In the rest of the spots, Blue Cross employees explain their daily routines and the ways in which they serve consumers. An emphasis is placed on ethnic diversity, professional integrity and attention to personal service. There is no tagline.
Khari Streeter and DeMane Davis, onetime creative directors at Heater Advertising in Boston, directed the new spots for Boston-based production company Picture Park.
“We went in as ‘guerrilla’ as we could to get fresh answers,” Streeter said. Even Van Faasen’s contributions were somewhat spontaneous; Streeter and Davis simply heard his message to the company and decided to build a spot around it, Streeter said.
For the past several years, Blue Cross ads from Holland Mark Edmund Ingalls in Boston were tagged “The family plans” and often used evocative imagery, such as a young father treating his daughter to a rocket ship ride outside a supermarket.
Boston-based Partners won the $4.5-6 million account following a review [Adweek, March 8].