Digitas Health, Razorfish Health to share new leadership, global team, in efficiency-driven reorg

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David Kramer
David Kramer

Digitas Health and Razorfish Health are undergoing an organizational restructure in which the two Publicis-owned siblings will share two newly appointed co-presidents, launch a single global leadership team and develop a variety of centers of excellence. The driving force behind the changes is to expedite growth, improve efficiencies and better serve clients in a transitioning industry. Despite pooling resources and developing new initiatives in tandem, the two agencies will continue to operate as separate, distinct brands.

Michael du Toit and Alexandra von Plato have been appointed co-presidents of both shops. Du Toit was previously global EVP at Digitas Health, while von Plato was EVP, chief creative officer, also at Digitas Health.

“Alex and Michael will share the executive responsibility and the stewardship of both brands,” said David Kramer, CEO of both Digitas Health and Razorfish Health, in an exclusive interview with MM&M.

A key part of the restructure is the appointment of the Razorfish/Digitas Health Global Executive Team, which will be charged with developing new ideas and offerings and meeting the demands for innovation and efficiency on a global scale. The overall mandate is to achieve comparable scale and growth for both Razorfish Health and Digitas Health.

Kramer will lead the new global team as CEO and has appointed du Toit as chief marketing officer and von Plato as chief creative officer, as well as Matt McNally as chief media officer and Michael Golub, MD, as chief medical officer.

“This is a signal to the industry that companies like mine need to change in accordance with the same transformation that is taking place in the industry we serve,” said Kramer.

“I look at the pipelines, the reduction in the sales force and the changing sales model, the industry-wide expansion of non-personal selling, the agency consolidation that clearly favors single innovative agencies, the increasing globalization that all our pharma clients are making us consider, and the increasing pressure for pharma marketers to prioritize efficiency at every turn… we just stopped dead in our tracks, we turned inward and we said, ‘Right now, are we designed right for this transformation? Because we claim we are one of the agencies that serves this transformation.” And the answer was: “No, not quite. We are not quite designed right.”

He adds: “We've had this remarkable five years of growth and [Digitas Health] is a very large single-brand agency. But we got to the point where our ability to grow would be limited and so we've go these two amazing brands, and this [redesign] will accelerate the expansion of two global brands.”

DigitasHealth and Razorfish Health will continue to operate a network of managing directors: June Dawson will continue as MD of Digitas Health in the UK; Katy Thorbahn will remain MD of Razorfish Health; Richard Newman, formerly president of Greater Than One, has been brought in as co-MD of Digitas Heath New York, along with Graham Mills; and Marion Chaplick and Eric Muller will be co-MDs of Digitas Health Philadelphia.

Another key component of this drive for efficiency is to develop several shared centers of excellence between the two brands. According to Kramer, these will likely be in digital and mobile technology, social media, science and medicine, regulatory, and data and analytics.

Kramer added that while no staff cuts are planned in the next few weeks, it is possible there may be some downsizing in the future. “All options are on the table. Part of the reason I've given presidencies to Alex and to Michael is to have all of us look really hard, both inside and out, at both brands and see if we are organized right. While there's nothing imminent in the coming weeks, it's possible. Of course, the reverse of that is that we could be hiring some folks we don't have right now.”

Kramer stresses that the two brands will remain distinct and separate, but that they will almost certainly grow closer in future. “Digitas Health has a very strong AOR heritage, a true understanding of the healthcare journey and of the multiple stakeholders in the value chain, whereas Razorfish Health is more of an experiential agency with a strong capability in technology.

“However, as time goes on, we are going to develop the character of both brands: I'd like to borrow some of the technology from Razorfish for Digitas Health, and add some of the healthcare capabilities of Digitas into Razorfish.”

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