brand renewal membership drive


A well-established, regional not-for-profit medical care coverage provider, Community First Health Plans offers HMO services catering to the Medicaid, STAR‑ and CHIP‑eligible residents of an eight-county Central Texas area. Established in 1995 with an operating staff of five — and esd on board as the initial marketing partner — it has expanded to include more than 100,000 members and over 300 employees.

facing competition

Established by University Health System and one of the first non-profit medical coverage companies in San Antonio, Community First was able to achieve market leadership with a relatively low-key marketing effort. As state and federal programs expanded the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the market became more lucrative and increasingly visible. Corporate providers came along, and Community First faced competition.

increasing visibility

To prevent “poaching” of current members and sustain their leadership through new member enrollment, Community First needed to raise its visibility. esd analysis presented a unique challenge: intensify Community First’s identity without alienating their base. As a non-profit, esd needed to mount an ambitious campaign on a shoestring budget.

finding Mr. Right

Any mass-market appeal to the South Texas population eligible for subsidized health programs would have to strike a resounding chord with the Hispanic community without estranging a significant population of non-Latino uninsured residents. The campaign needed a universally accepted public face and voice on this massive public awareness campaign was requisite. But, did such a person exist and could the nonprofit budget of Community First even afford a professional talent fee?

Fates smiled upon Community First – the “Little HMO that Could” – when a quirky, unknown network television show debuted. Desperate Housewives became a bubbling cultural melting pot and skyrocketed San Antonio native Ricardo Antonio Chavira into national prominence.

esd approached Mr. Chavira with an appeal on behalf of his hometown, and negotiated an exceptionally reasonable fee for his services  Mr. Chavira opened heart, and provided his services as the public visage of a 12-month community awareness campaign at an exceptionally reasonable rate: he participated in radio spots and photo shoots and granted unlimited use of his image for less than $20,000 for the entire year.

The subsequent campaign blanketed the metropolitan San Antonio area:

  • saturation outdoor advertising
  • direct mail
  • diverse demographic radio spots, psas and remote broadcasts
  • highly-publicized giveaways

The Chavira campaign, with spots and materials, highlighted the Community First mission and encouraging San Antonians to enroll in these programs. esd capitalized on the added-value concessions with strategic advertising buys to maximize market exposure and impact.

mission accomplished

By executing a comprehensive communications campaign and garnering Ricardo Chavira’s support, Community First retained its status as South Texas’ provider of choice. This campaign, which culminated in December 2006, realized a 7.5 percent increase in program enrollments—a remarkable accomplishment when measured against industry standards of a 3 percent change for accepted campaign success. esd continues to serve Community First, producing their Number 1 campaign, launch of a commercial insurance program, website development and continued STAR & CHIP marketing.

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