Oscar Health, the venture capital-funded insurance company co-founded by Josh Kushner, is in growth mode and has tapped a new agency of record to spread the word. This week, the New York-based company selected Chandelier Creative to handle its advertising, says Ivan Wicksteed, who joined Oscar two weeks ago as chief marketing officer.
Founded in 2012 as an insurance option following the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, Oscar is currently in over a dozen geographic markets but plans to expand dramatically this year. The brand is challenged with introducing itself to consumers unfamiliar with the new tech-focused options in the insurance industry.
“Oscar is a classic challenger brand and needs to act and behave differently from the rest of the industry in order to stand out,” says Wicksteed, a veteran marketer who has held the CMO title at Old Navy and Cole Haan. “The campaign has to convert people and do the heavy lifting of explaining to people why the health insurance that they have is currently not as good as the option that Oscar offers.”
Wicksteed says that Chandelier, an agency he had worked with at Old Navy, proposed work that was both compelling and competitively differentiated. Chandelier competed for the company's creative business in a review that Wicksteed instigated two months ago before he officially came on board at Oscar; eight agencies participated and the field narrowed down to three high-profile finalists, Wicksteed says.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with health care’s most disruptive company,” says Richard Christiansen, founder of Chandelier. “We’re so excited to bring fresh thinking and electricity to a category that desperately needs it.”
While Oscar typically advertises only during open enrollment in the November-December timeframe, the brand may begin a campaign earlier in the fall in certain markets. The brand spent around $30 million on marketing last year, Wicksteed says, adding that it will increase its marketing budget this year as it expands to new areas.
In the past, the brand had appealed primarily to freelance workers in urban locations, but Oscar has matured significantly to now target consumers who receive government subsidies to help pay for health insurance. “That’s our core customer nowadays,” Wicksteed says.