The Top 50: Saatchi and Saatchi Healthcare Communications

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Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications underwent significant reorganization of senior management, as Mike Trepicchio moved up to a network-level role, and saw increased integration of accounts, with group units handling both consumer and professional on a number of big clients.

Trepicchio’s promotion from Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare head to president, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group North American advertising followed that of former Medicus boss Nick Colucci to CEO of PHCG, replacing Ed Rady. In turn, Sam Welch moved up to head Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications, while Dave Marek replaced him as head of Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Advertising, the company’s primary physician-focused arm and its largest.

Meanwhile, the departure of DTC chief Tom Lom for pastures unknown resulted in the appointment of Jim Joseph as managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Healthcare, with Bob Hogan named client services director. Dan Franklin and Chas Villante were named executive creative directors at the consumer unit, replacing longtime creative director Harry Azorin.

As a result of consolidation, Saatchi & Saatchi now holds both the professional and consumer advertising business on more than half of all accounts, says Welch.

“It’s a huge strength that they’ve really solidified over the last year,” he says. That’s being driven by demand for channel-neutral planning, Welch says—a task that Saatchi, with its big consumer shop and strong specialty businesses like its iMed multimedia unit, is particularly well-suited to.

Welch points to the group’s integrated launch of Takeda’s Amitiza for idiopathic constipation with Saatchi spin-off Glow Worm (notable for executing King’s Altace unbranded Super Bowl ad earlier this year). “What they’re doing—integrated across consumer, Web, professional, everything—is really indicative of where the company’s going,” Welch says.

“The future of the business is all around integrated communications,” concurs Marek. “We have led the way in terms of integrated communications. We’re making sure that integration means not only making communications more effective, but also more efficient. The marketing mix is going to evolve as we go forward, meaning multiple channels that vary by audience. We’re going to continue to evolve our thinking on how we can access the tools and processes needed to stay on the forefront.”

Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Advertising, in particular, is going gangbusters, says Welch. The former Klemtner agency picked up assignments on: Boehringer Ingelheim’s Aptivus protease inhibitor and, following that award, Viramune; Amylin’s Symlin diabetes drug; Endo’s Opana pain drug and several new assignments from AstraZeneca, including a corporate effort to ensure appropriate pharmaceutical care for patients taking the firm’s drugs. The agency also worked on the Amitiza launch and helped reposition Amgen and Wyeth’s complex, multi-condition drug Enbrel.

Marek takes particular pride in the several secondary assignments that followed the initial awards with new clients. “It speaks to the energy they feel with us that they came back to us and asked us to expand our work for them,” he says.

And Saatchi’s professional arm held onto all its existing business. “Job one was to strengthen the relationships we have,” says Marek. “We’re very fortunate to have the kind of clients who want to lead and are willing to get out in front. When we have that kind of energy, it creates a healthy environment and enables us to retain our top talent, and clients see the passion we have for their brands and the energy behind it. Right now, we’re having the most fun we’ve had in years.”

Also booming is Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Innovations, the company’s Newton, PA, outpost aimed at challenged and challenger brands, which has almost doubled its staff size over the past year, going from a team of 38 to 68 despite the loss of GlaxoSmithKline’s Coreg, a major account, in a consolidation into Interpublic Group. The firm’s fortunes have risen on solid organic growth, says EVP managing director Diane Baisch. “We work with brands that face special challenges in the marketplace, trying to help them think of new ways to approach the market,” says Baisch. “Often they’re products companies want to revitalize or it’s a new product that has to launch a challenge to the market leader.”

The unit won Sanofi Pasteur’s managed care marketing as well as assignments on NitroMed’s BiDil, Boston-based Marine Polymer Technologies and new work from AstraZeneca. Healthcare Innovations is working on the launches of Wyeth’s Toricel, Sanofi-Aventis’ Sculptra for cosmetic use and Sanofi Pasteur’s Pentacel.

In addition, the firm handles Sanofi Pasteur’s pediatric vaccines and Adacel, Sanofi-Aventis’ Carac and Benzaclin.  

Business was flat at Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Healthcare—not that anyone’s complaining, with a trove of huge accounts like AstraZeneca’s Crestor, Nexium, Seroquel and Pulmicort, Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien CR, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Plavix and Pfizer’s Detrol, Merial’s Frontline Flea & Tick and Transitions Lenses. The firm launched Ambien CR consumer in April, along with new work for Frontline Flea & Tick, and followed up with new print ads for Pulmicort and print and TV for Crestor.

“These guys are big spenders, so we have to keep the messaging fresh in order for consumers to hear it,” says Joseph, a former Johnson & Johnson consumer products marketer who founded marketing services firm Arc, now a Publicis company, whose clients included Kellogg, GM and Aflac. The firm, he said, is working on building its interactive capability.
“Saatchi & Saatchi is historically known as an ad agency, and obviously we still have that, but we’re expanding into the bigger picture of marketing,” he said.

Joseph sees consumer advertising moving in a more holistic direction. “Companies are very much taking a patient perspective on things,” says Joseph. “It’s about not treating pharmaceuticals as these horrible things in a person’s life but as a natural part of somebody’s health, which is a combination of what’s in their genetic makeup, lifestyle, etc. It’s how pharmaceuticals fit into that whole scheme, person by person, that’s where the industry’s going. Just because they’re on a prescription drug doesn’t mean they’re sick—it’s part of everything else going on in their lives.”

That means rethinking the traditional consumer campaign, says Welch. “They’re moving into some exciting new spaces beyond traditional DTC,” says Welch. The firm is also moving beyond traditional Rx accounts, going after OTC brands as well.

“Jim comes out of the consumer marketing world, so there’s a huge opportunity for him in that realm,”  Welch says.

Looking forward, Welch, like all of his deputies, says doing more with less is the key challenge facing his agencies.

“It sounds trite, but the thing we’re grappling with most is the retrenching of our traditional pharma clients and figuring out how to be more creative and strategic with fewer bucks. It’s pushing us, in a good way, to not be so tried and true but think from different and multiple perspectives, so that you see a lot more channel neutral work,” says Welch. “The really positive thing for us is that a majority of our relationships are long term ones, and the majority of our growth is organic. That’s a great place to be as an agency.”
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