Tenet’s Revamp to Impact BVK

CHICAGO – Changes in Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s marketing plan, including a sharply reduced budget, will force layoffs at lead agency BVK/McDonald and could open the door for other shops, according to the client and agency.
“The philosophy has changed,” said David McAdam, senior vice president of corporate communications at Santa Barbara, Calif.-headquartered Tenet.
The company has given more autonomy to its six operating regions, each of which has been asked to develop its own marketing and advertising plan. Marketing managers in each of the regions will draw up and control their own budgets and use the agencies they choose to execute advertising for the Tenet hospitals in those regions, McAdam said.
So far, all of the regions remain with BVK, according to Dick McDonald, managing officer for the Glendale, Wis.-based agency. But the regional managers are still in the process of reviewing their options, and changes could be on the way, McAdam said.
“Each of the six is being asked what resources they need to meet their hospitals’ needs,” McAdam said. “BVK may handle some or all, but on an à la carte basis.”
Since BVK picked up the Tenet account in the fall of 1996, the business has grown significantly, sources said, possibly to as much as double the original $10 million estimate in billings. The agency’s duties have included advertising and sales promotion, as well as interactive and consulting services.
Ad spending will be substantially reduced under the new setup, and McDonald acknowledged the lessened workload will result in layoffs at his agency, although he couldn’t yet say how many. BVK has opened service offices to work on Tenet, and those could also be affected.
All future advertising will draw from a “library”of materials built up during BVK’s years as national agency of record, McAdam said. “Any [agency] that comes on board will be asked to look to the library first,” he said.
Tenet’s operating regions are (loosely) California, Texas, the Gulf States, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Florida. The organization operates about 130 hospitals in 18 states. ¡