California tobacco program offers $1 million PR contract

SACRAMENTO: The California Department of Public Health plans to issue an RFP on September 17 for a $1 million PR contract for its tobacco control program.

SACRAMENTO: The California Department of Public Health plans to issue an RFP on September 17 for a $1 million annual PR contract for its tobacco control program.

The state agency, which was established by the Tobacco Tax and Health Promotion Act, hired The Rogers Group in 1994 as its PR AOR, said Colleen Stevens, chief of the media campaign unit for the California Tobacco Control Program.

Although the contract went up for bid in 1999 and 2004, The Rogers Group was the only firm to pitch. The current contract for the firm ends in June 2010.

“There's such a strong belief that the incumbent is going to be successful that people don't even look at it as a potential piece of new business,” said Stevens. “We just want to make sure that we have the best agency to lead us forward.”

The Los-Angeles firm was invited to pitch for the new contract, which is slated to start in March 2010, said Stevens. Lynn Doll, president of The Rogers Group, declined to comment.

Agency requirements include an office in California, at least $2.5 million in billions for two out of the last three years, and no conflicts with the tobacco industry. The contract runs through February 2013, and the department estimates that $1 million will be available annually for it, dependent on state budgets.

Stevens noted that the agency is looking at expanding its local and regional grassroots work although the main goal for the contract is to to maintain and continue to raise awareness about tobacco use and secondhand smoke with the California public.

Earlier this year, the Tobacco Control Program conducted an advertising review and awarded the account to Rubin Postaer and Associates, said Stevens. The incumbent was Ground Zero Advertising.

The scheduled deadline for proposals is October 13.

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