Ketchum to show Medicare as information resource in $25m effort

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected Ketchum to manage a $25 million integrated marketing campaign in support of Medicare, the government program that provides health coverage for seniors and some disabled Americans.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected Ketchum to manage a $25 million integrated marketing campaign in support of Medicare, the government program that provides health coverage for seniors and some disabled Americans.

In addition to handling all PR responsibilities, Ketchum will oversee Campbell Ewald, Public Opinion Strategies, and National Media - respectively, CMS' advertising, research, and media-buying partners on the initiative. The government agency would not comment on how the budget is being divided among the disciplines.

The campaign had been handled by Academy for Education Development (AED) for the past two years.

The central focus of the one-year effort is to increase recognition of 1-800-MEDICARE

as a reliable source of information about the program.

Monica Marshall, SVP of corporate communications and government marketing for Ketchum, said the strategy behind the initiative is "to shift the image of Medicare." She explained, "We are trying to get beneficiaries to see Medicare as a useful resource, and not

just a claims processor."

Regarding the pending verdict on whether Congress will pass legislation that provides prescription-drug coverage under Medicare, Rob Sweezy, director of public affairs for CMS, confirmed that any changes made to the plan would not alter the campaign.

"Regardless of the benefits available, people still need a credible resource for information about their heath coverage," said Sweezy.

Ketchum is one of four PR agencies that were selected in 2001 by CMS as part of its Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) policy. The IDIQ policy is a five-year umbrella contract under which CMS considers Ketchum, Ogilvy PR, GCI Group, and AED to be preferred agencies. During the five-year period, CMS only hears pitches from these four firms.

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