FDA, CDC award anti-smoking jobs worth up to $540m

WASHINGTON: Two Department of Health and Human Services agencies have awarded multi-year anti-smoking marketing contracts worth up to $540 million.

WASHINGTON: Two Department of Health and Human Services agencies have awarded multi-year anti-smoking marketing contracts worth up to $540 million.

The US Food and Drug Administration has created a roster of six firms that will be eligible for the planning and development of multichannel public health education campaigns, according to the RFP. Much of the work is expected to target young people, according to the search documents.

A majority of the budget for the contract is expected to be consumed by paid media, according to the scope of services outlined in the RFP. An FDA representative confirmed the wins, but declined to comment further.

After a competitive process that spanned more than a year, the federal agency selected Interpublic Group advertising firms Campbell-Ewald Company, Draftfcb, and Mullen; WPP's Grey Global Group; and the independent Riester Corporation - plus nonprofit American Legacy Foundation.

The contracts are collectively worth up to $390 million over a five-year period, according to award notices. The funding will come from a grant established by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law in 2009.

RFP documents indicate each vendor will have at least one PR subcontractor assisting them on work awarded under the contract. For instance, Campbell-Ewald Company will work with sister IPG firm Weber Shandwick, according to the ad agency's chairman Bill Ludwick.

He said the company is excited to work on projects that will hopefully lead to behavior change for some, and stop others from trying tobacco all together.

“We know if we can get [youth] not to try it in the first place, it increases our chances of lowering tobacco consumption,” Ludwick said.

This is the first time the American Legacy Foundation, which is behind the long-running “Truth” campaign, is the prime contractor for a federal anti-smoking initiative. In addition to having a strong PR team in-house, the organization will team up with Fenton and Hispanic PR firm Sensis for work it wins under the contract.

“Smoking kills 400,000 people a year and we know a well-executed, financially supported media campaign can drive those numbers down,” Dave Dobbins, Legacy's chief operating officer, said.  “We're excited to help the FDA construct a top-notch campaign.”

Draftfcb's PR subcontractor is Fleishman-Hillard, and Grey Global Group told the FDA that it can work with any of  WPP's roster of PR firms if needed.

Both Riester Corporation and Mullen said they would handle any PR work they win via their in-house operations.

In July, the FDA also created a roster of three firms eligible for anti-tobacco outreach projects that target at-risk and underserved populations, worth collectively up to $210 million.

Separately, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has re-awarded Plowshare, a PSA and communications outreach shop, a multimillion-dollar contract for its own anti-smoking effort. The firm was behind the “Tips from Former Smokers” effort launched in spring 2012.

The new contract has a base budget of $50 million, with the option of a two-year renewal and possible total budget of just under $150 million, said Joel London, health communications specialist at CDC.

As with the previous contract, IPG firm Golin Harris is working as a subcontractor handling PR and digital media strategy.

The federal agency hopes to once again cast real former smokers as it did previously, London said. A lion's share of the budget will likely go to paid media, according to the scope of services outlined in the RFP.

Both Plowshare and Golin Harris deferred comments about the contract to CDC.

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