Campbell Ewald replaces Weber Shandwick on $50m-a-year Covered California account

The health benefits exchange also retained Ogilvy Public Relations for its $2-million-a-year communications account.

SACRAMENTO, CA: Campbell Ewald has won a three-year, $50 million-per-year marketing account to promote California’s healthcare benefit exchange, Covered California. The creative agency is replacing Weber Shandwick on the account.

The contract includes TV, radio, print, digital, and outdoor media buys. Eight agencies competed for the business.

Covered California said in a statement that its RFP emphasized the importance of reaching Latinos, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and African-Americans, as well as LGBT consumers and Millennials. All of the firms that applied for the work partnered with subcontractors that specialize in reaching those groups, the organization said.

Weber had served as Covered California’s marketing and advertising contractor of record prior to the exchange’s launch for enrollment in October 2013, the group said.

"Weber Shandwick helped us successfully launch Covered California’s strong marketing and advertising efforts and can be proud they were part of helping us make history," said Covered California executive director Peter Lee. "They worked hand-in-hand with us to reach millions of Californians under extremely tight deadlines and helped to launch one of the most successful marketplaces in the country."

The group added that Weber helped Covered California enroll nearly 500,000 people, including a record number of Latinos.

In May 2013, the state awarded Weber Shandwick a contract that ran through April 2015 to develop a creative marketing and paid media campaign. That same month, Covered California also announced plans to hire two dozen staffers to bolster its in-house team.  

A Covered California representative would not confirm if Weber re-pitched for the business.

"Our award-winning work on [the exchange’s] behalf has been successful and has well positioned Covered California for continued success. More than 1.5 million California residents have enrolled in the state health exchange since it launched in 2013, more than any other state exchange in the country," Weber said in a statement. "We are proud of our work together and wish Covered California the best as it embarks on this new chapter." 

Covered California retained Ogilvy Public Relations as its communications AOR; that contract is worth $2 million per year.

The WPP firm was first named PR contractor of record for the state’s health exchange in 2012, according to Covered California.

Ogilvy PR’s work for Covered California will include influencer communications, content creation, and social media. Four firms were in the running for the PR contract, which has two annual options to renew, according to a statement from Covered California.

Ogilvy PR’s Sacramento office will lead account work, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco lending a hand.

Nathan Friedman, MD of Ogilvy PR West, said his firm had been working with Covered California prior to its launch. Its focus will include boosting awareness through integrated efforts and reaching audiences including African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Latinos, he noted.

"It’s an account that people want to work on at the agency because it’s meaningful work," said Freidman.

Covered California awarded Ogilvy PR a contract worth $900,000 in March 2012 to promote the state health exchange. In May 2013, Ogilvy PR’s contract was upped to $17 million to aid its outreach efforts to uninsured Californians.

Both contracts have options for two additional one-year extensions.

Representatives Campbell Ewald could not be immediately reached for comment.

This story was updated with additional comment on June 17.

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