Alison Weissbrot
May 24, 2021

Cigna consolidates global marketing business with IPG

The network is creating a bespoke agency for the health insurance giant.

Cigna consolidates global marketing business with IPG

Healthcare giant Cigna has consolidated its global enterprise marketing account with Interpublic Group, completing a review that kicked off in February.

Cigna is consolidating its entire marketing business with the holding company, which will create a bespoke and flexible team called “Team Unleash” to service the enterprise across the Cigna and Evernorth brands. The account is a huge win for IPG, which held pieces of Cigna’s creative and digital business under McCann and R/GA, respectively.

Cigna plans to tap into resources and talent on-demand as needed across the IPG network, from agencies including McCann Worldgroup, R/GA, Initiative, Acxiom, Kinesso, as well as other specialist talent in data and analytics, media and creative. The new agency structure will be finalised by July 1.

The customised team will bring in a more diverse set of industry experts to evolve Cigna’s marketing strategy and maintain flexibility across changing business needs. The company is also making a push for simplification and integration across disciplines.

“We are thrilled that we are expanding our relationship with IPG,” Cigna chief marketing officer Kristen Lauria said in a statement. “IPG understands our business, growth strategy and will help bring to life the unique value of our Cigna and Evernorth brands as they individually compete in their respective markets and collectively come together to make healthcare more affordable, predictable and simple.”

The result is bad news for Omnicom’s OMD, which has held the healthcare giant’s media account since 2014 and was reportedly defending the business, according to Business Insider.

As the fourth-largest health insurance provider in the US, Cigna spent an estimated $60 million on marketing in the region in 2019, according to Kantar. The company declined to provide updated figures on the size of its account.

“Cigna is delivering tremendous growth across the enterprise and value to its many stakeholders,” IPG CEO Philippe Krakowsky said in a statement. “We are excited to expand our current relationship to help elevate its two power brands in even more meaningful ways.”

McCann worked with Cigna on a 2020 campaign thanking healthcare workers for their efforts during the pandemic. The company also worked with R/GA last year to launch Evernorth, which offers more affordable, flexible and personalised healthcare plans and was born out of the company’s 2018 acquisition of Express Scripts.

Lauria said: “Our partnership builds on a strong track record of success that has helped fuel our growth. The next stage of our relationship will create a unique model that will not only foster innovation but also demonstrate Cigna’s leadership as we continue our mission to improve the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of those we serve.”

Krakowsky added: “We are proud to have played a part in last year’s launch of the company’s new health services brand Evernorth, and look forward to working across the entire enterprise and providing Cigna with a fully-customised agency model that provides access to talent and resources from across our portfolio.”

Despite being a global health insurance giant, Cigna was impacted by the pandemic as costs related to Covid-19 rose sharply and people deferred care in other areas. The company ended the year, however, with $160.4 billion revenue and $8.5 billion in profit, up from $5.1 billion in 2019.

Healthcare has been a huge growth area for agencies during an otherwise tough year. IPG consistently noted growth from healthcare clients throughout the year, with Krakowsky calling out the sector during the company’s Q4 earnings call as “our strongest performer all year, and that skews very heavily to the US by the factor of two to one.”

The Cigna pitch is the latest example of a global marketer consolidating its entire account with one holding company. Last year, Walgreens Boots Alliance re-upped with WPP to run its entire $600 million account.

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