Debate puts Blue Cross PR on hold

MINNEAPOLIS: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has picked PR and ad agencies for a 10-year anti-smoking and health campaign, but can't start funding the assignment because of a new legal challenge to its plans.

MINNEAPOLIS: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has picked PR and ad agencies for a 10-year anti-smoking and health campaign, but can't start funding the assignment because of a new legal challenge to its plans.

"We've been advised we cannot spend any proceeds (from the national tobacco settlement) until these legal issues are resolved, said Karl Oestreich, director of public relations with Blue Cross of Minnesota.

The insurer had picked Crispin Porter Bogusky of Miami and Porter Novelli as its advertising and PR team. The duo beat finalists Carmichael Lynch Spong of Minneapolis, and BBDO, which planned to work with Fleishman-Hillard.

Spending for the program was expected to reach $100 million-$110 million over 10 years.

Groups in the state have contended that Blue Cross and Blue Shield should rebate to customers the proceeds it received from the national tobacco settlement rather than spend the money itself.

Blue Cross won another legal challenge earlier this year. It's requesting a hearing on the latest challenge in late September.

If the matter can be resolved quickly, Blue Cross will assign the Crispin/PN team the work.

If the matter drags on in the courts for several years, however, the contract will likely be put out for new bids, assuming Blue Cross ultimately wins the right to spend the settlement money as it wants.

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