Bupa reviews media amid split with Wavemaker

Nine-year incumbent was not invited to repitch.

Bupa: launched 'Is it normal?' campaign in January 2020
Bupa: launched 'Is it normal?' campaign in January 2020

Bupa, the private healthcare provider, has launched a UK media planning and buying review after splitting with WPP’s Wavemaker after nearly 10 years.

The review, which is currently at chemistry stage, is being assisted by Ebiquity as Bupa looks for a new, long-term partner media agency. 

Wavemaker was not invited to repitch, but Campaign understands WPP has suggested putting forward alternative Group M agencies to be part of the process. 

Bupa expects to conclude the review by the end of the year. The winning agency would be expected to plan and buy media for offline and online channels. Bupa spent £5m on UK media in 2019, with the vast majority being spent on TV (£3.2m) and radio (£1.1m), according to Nielsen estimates. Its TV spend figure is the same as was reported in 2011, when the overall media budget was quoted by Campaign as £10m.

MEC (now Wavemaker), won the Bupa media business in 2011. The account comprises media planning and buying for the company’s several units, including brand, private medical insurance, and dental services. 

According to a source close to the review, Bupa is concerned that the renown of its private health insurance business overshadows other services it provides, and wants to focus its marketing on making consumers more familiar with the breadth of its range of healthcare services. 

The brand has 33 million customers worldwide, including 2.3 million people who use private insurance in the UK, with other services comprising clinics, care homes, and dental care.

Earlier this year Bupa launched a campaign focusing on mental health, created by MullenLowe London, in an attempt to challenge preconceptions about what is considered “normal”.

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