CDC re-ups with Porter Novelli on child development campaign

The account could be worth up to $2.7 million.

Photo credit: Getty images
Photo credit: Getty images

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed its contract with Porter Novelli for the Learn the Signs. Act Early public outreach campaign. 

The program educates parents, healthcare providers and caregivers about the importance of tracking the mental and social development, in addition to the physical development, of newborns and young children. 

Karen Hunter, senior press officer for the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said Porter won the account late last month after a competitive award process. She did not disclose the other agencies that competed for the contract. 

The government agency initially awarded Porter nearly $600,000 for the work. The agency has the potential to earn more than $2.6 million from the account, according to USASpending.gov. The initial term of the account runs from September 30 through the end of September of next year. The contract can be extended for four more optional years, meaning Porter’s work on the campaign could run through September 2024. 

Porter has a long history working on the program. It won the campaign’s last five-year contract, worth $3.6 million, that started in October 2014 and ended on September 30, and has worked on the push since its 2004 launch, said Demeika Wheaton, VP of purpose at Porter. 

"We were the agency selected, and we’ve [won all] three bids since then, including the most recent one, all of which were competitive," she said. 

The program has three main components: a health education campaign, an initiative promoting developmental monitoring; and a research and evaluation effort to support the program, according to the RFP. It targets three groups: parents of young children, health professionals serving young children and early educators and childcare providers. 

"We’ve really had a chance to have a concentrated focus on each of those audiences and really get a good understanding of what their needs are in terms of development materials and products that really speak to them," said Wheaton, who has worked on the account for more than five years. 

Fewer than 10 people work on the Atlanta-based team dedicated to the contract, she added, through the agency brings in talent from other offices as needed.

The contract requires Porter to work on specific tasks such as developing and maintaining products including training material and a smartphone app called Milestone Tracker; promoting the program and app on social media; and collecting survey data about early child development and other topics. 

The CDC account win comes amid several executive changes at Porter. Global president Jennifer Swint stepped down this month and her position was eliminated. It also hired former Weber Shandwick EVP Joe Farren as MD of its Washington, DC, office this month, while former Chicago and New York MD Kyle Farnham left to become Finn Partners’ first managing partner of consumer

Porter’s revenue grew 1% to $150.5 million in 2018, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report.

Omnicom Group’s PR agencies posted a revenue decrease of 3.8% in Q3 to $337.2 million. PR accounted for 9.3% of the holding company’s business in Q3.

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