Cronin Bags Vytra HMO Account

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Cronin and Co. Inc. has been named agency of record by Vytra Health Plans, a leading HMO in the Long Island managed-care market.

Valued at $1 million, the account involves general advertising and direct marketing responsibilities. Donaudy Munch Marketing Communications, Hauppauge, NY, and Harrison Leifer, Miller & Speyer, Rockville Centre, NY -- Vytra's public relations agency -- also pitched for the account. The incumbent on the account was Pure Octane, formerly Esprit, in Laguna Beach, CA. It did not participate in the review.

Bill Cronin, chairman and president/CEO of Cronin, Glastonbury, CT, said Vytra is a strong brand for an HMO on Long Island but that the market is nearing saturation.

"Our assignment with the brand is to strengthen the brand in a category of service that has the lowest level of trust in the U.S.," Cronin said.

"Vytra is a high-end managed-care company, so the branding challenge is to sell them as what they are as a company and not tie it to the bad name that goes with the whole category, HMOs in general."

Cronin will break its first campaign this month for Vytra, Melville, NY.

"We're primarily relying on newspaper and radio, and we're supplementing that effort at employers through direct, radio and print," said Melinda Smolkin, senior account supervisor at Cronin. "The marketing strategy is that they've already attained a good reputation on Long Island, [and] the idea is to continue to execute that branding in the minds of consumers elsewhere."

Cronin also will help Vytra with marketing communications for new healthcare plan products that will roll out soon.

A 54-year-old full-service agency, Cronin last year posted billings of $50 million. Clients include Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Connecticut Lottery; e-commerce software company Interworld Corp.; and NYCE Corp., an automated teller machine and debit transfer exchange.

Smolkin said direct marketing will be key in Vytra's marketing.

"Direct marketing is extremely important, because as the managed-care market becomes extremely competitive, a finely honed message directed to the target audience becomes increasingly critical," she said. "Direct allows us to address the particular needs of the individual target."

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