3 questions for 5 of the agency world's leading executives

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1. How did healthcare fare for your holding company in 2015? Where does its performance stand in relation to other disciplines within the group?

Nick Colucci, CEO, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group: Healthcare communications is undergoing radical change, and Publicis Healthcare Communications Group continues to be at the forefront of managing that change. In 2015 we met our strategic and organic growth targets.

Additionally, we expanded our global footprint with the comple­tion of our acquisitions of Tardis, Langland, and PDI. Our success continues to lead the way in our own organization, as well as within the industry. 

Donna Murphy, global CEO, Havas Health: Health and wellness continued to be key revenue and growth drivers for Havas. Continued investment in health and wellness is a focus for Havas, as evidenced by our four global acquisitions in 2015 [see next question].

We're proud of our consistent performance over the course of the past 25 years and have invested in innovative and strategic offerings to stay ahead of the curve.

Ed Wise, CEO, Omnicom Health Group: Healthcare showed excellent performance last year relative to all other sectors. We saw particularly strong performance coming from our companies with a focus in oncology and specialty areas, including rare diseases.

We also experienced excellent growth in our companies that focus on access and reimbursement. We expect these areas to show continued strength as we move through 2016.

Helene Yan, VP, business strategy, Interpublic Group: The year 2015 was another strong one in healthcare for IPG at both of our core global brands, FCB Health and McCann Health, with growth in the sector outpacing the industry average. Growth drivers for McCann included its consultancy divisions, and FCB saw its branding and social media practices expand. Both shops expanded existing relationships with clients and won new business.

We saw many more integrated assignments across channels, including DTC, HCP, and digital. This trend was driven by our clients' emphasis on efficiencies and was true across North America, Europe, and APAC. APAC in particular grew through increased emphasis on strategic market shaping and brand-creation services.

John Zweig, Chairman, healthcare and specialist communications, WPP: Our healthcare business grew in 2015. While healthcare is reported as part of our branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications businesses, including digital and direct, it is not broken out separately because it isn't really a discipline, but rather a category of human benefit — arguably the broadest and most profoundly important category of human need there is.

So our health-related clients are spread throughout our adver­tising agencies, PR firms, research and consulting, digital and direct, multicultural, media firms, and so on. As an industry, healthcare is among the largest, most significant, and most dynamic we serve.

Clockwise from top left: Nick Colucci, Donna Murphy, John Zweig, Ed Wise, and Helene Yan.

2. Why has integration been a common response by networks to the growing complexity of business? Has the evolving nature of the holding company model been a factor?

Colucci: By restructuring its businesses into four solutions hubs — Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient, and Publicis Health — the group validated the model that we have been operating under since its inception, in 2004.

Integration simply for the sake of integration can be a fruitless task if there is no vision or purpose behind it. Our move away from a traditional holding company structure toward a connecting company structure was designed to more efficiently and effectively service client needs and leverage know-how and strengths.

Read the 2016 Agency Issue

Murphy: Talent remains the linchpin to success. Some of our new or enhanced capabilities include Havas Gemini, payer strategy and comms experts with a proprietary data set; Symbiotix, a medical-education and training company specializing in turning science into action for internal and external customers; and Xigxag, a new consultancy offering unique strategies in biopharma and healthcare.

Plus we're thrilled with our joint venture with Vencore, a data and tech firm that can accelerate diagnosis in rare and hard-to-find patient groups. 

Wise: The moves we took this year built upon collaborative momentum. It has been helpful to put the right organizational structure around things we were previously doing organically. One key area has been around technology, including data and analytics, which we see as a driver of our leadership in the next few years.

We have also been strategic in terms of acquisitions, bringing on BioPharm, an innovative data-driven multichannel marketing company, in a short time frame to complement our current portfolio. Additionally, by organizing what was LLNS and Corbett under TBWA\WorldHealth, we have built a new global powerhouse that has a well-defined point of view. 

Yan: When we realigned ICC under the FCB Health pillar — it wasn't a merger — we recognized there was inefficiency in having duplicate services across the three ICC brands. As a result, we integrated the ICC and Pace brands to form FCBCure as a full-service powerhouse agency and refocused Trio as a promotional med-ed specialist.

On the ­business front, having such a strong New Jersey presence has been a game changer from a growth and talent perspective. FCB Health is now able to transfer or recruit great talent for whom a New York City commute isn't an option. This helps FCB Health to further deliver on its vision of proactive career management.

Zweig: We integrated Ogilvy CommonHealth, ghg, Sudler & Hennessey, and Wunderman Health into our healthcare network brands. But we took a different approach with media and intentionally did not consolidate our planning and buying into one of our agency brands. CMI/Compas resides at our center to facilitate collaboration with all of our networks.

Precisely targeting audiences, leveraging data and analytics not historically available in traditional media, and proving what is and isn't working are the reasons the majority of clients rate CMI/Compas as an “indispensable partner.” We get the best results by organizing around clients' structures rather than our own.

Havas Marty connected couch

At Lions Health, Havas Group CEO Yannick Bolloré announced the launch of Havas 18/35, an innovation lab that turns early-stage ideas such as a "connected couch" into projects.

3. What are your future prospects for healthcare, and how will you continue to evolve your company's service model as you endeavor to stay ahead of client demands?

Colucci: Putting clients at the center of everything we do is at the core of our new service model. The transformations of healthcare and healthcare communications mean we need to stay ahead by anticipating the needs of our clients through our understanding of what motivates the consumers of health- and wellness-related goods and services.

In a connected world of empowered consumers, all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem need to be much more patient-centered. Our structure equips us to tackle client demands now and in the future.

See how the agency solar system evolved this year. 

Murphy: Our global network is second to none. We will remain hyper-focused on results-oriented solutions for our clients. We will continue to push diversification so that our ability to solve problems across the complex health matrix is comprehensive and unparalleled.

Changes in healthcare are not stopping, so you can be sure that we won't stop, either. Look for more from us in the near future.

Wise: Our ability to connect, and to leverage the connectivity of technology, will allow us to address the needs of the complex and interconnected ecosystem in which our brands and customers now live. Clients today look for partners who can help them lead. So we are driving innovation and opening innovative doors for clients.

We know none of us can do this alone, so we are becoming partners to technology companies, becoming collaborators among our sister companies, and reaching into other industries to bring the best thinking to our clients. Given our renewed focus, our now-formalized structure, and our collaborative culture, we have optimistic prospects for 2016.

Yan: Pharma is shifting emphasis from pure cost management to a focus on effectiveness and efficiency gains — learning lessons from past consolidations and creating new commercial models built on those experiences.

To meet their goals, our healthcare agency brands are collaborating to customize solutions on a global scale via Open Architecture; adding new capabilities, like ReviveHealth in the U.S. and GolinMagic in China, while integrating existing expertise to be stronger together; and tapping into IPG Media Lab, combining agency expertise with the lab's creative technology prowess to help clients explore new frontiers. With our evolved client model, we feel our prospects for 2016 are excellent.

Zweig: Our prospects for the future are as exciting as the category itself. WPP's 45-plus client teams have evolved different models of horizontality as expressions of the various ways clients demand differentiated, effective, and efficient marketing. The challenges are greater when clients and agencies mouth the words but do not equally commit to a shared vision of the future. We focus on achieving excellence in not only the traditional measures of quality, but also on demonstrating to the senior-most client leadership how pivotal communications can be in both building the business and improving human health. We haven't scratched the surface of what can be accomplished.

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