Top 100 Agencies: Publicis Life Brands Medicus

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Digital work for Enfamil
Digital work for Enfamil

Publicis' venerable professional shop came under new leadership and looked inward for a structural overhaul in 2012.

Adrian Sansone took over as managing director in August as Lisa Ebert left the firm after seven years at the helm. A longtime Publicis exec, Sansone came over from Publicis Life Brands International, where he was managing the Paris office. There, he got “a future look on how medicine is reimbursed here, under value-based pricing.” He reports to Michael du Toit, who was recently promoted to president of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group for North America. Du Toit told MM&M at the time: “We view Adrian as a change agent to implement what could be a profound shift in the way HCP agencies service their clients.”

In December, the shop implemented a new structure organized around what they call “business teams” for each client. Each business team has a team leader, two creative partners and a director of project management.

“Most agencies are kind of structured in verticals, where you have the account stream, creative stream, strategy stream,” says Sansone. “Here, we've broken all those verticals down and created these business teams, because there's a science behind teamwork and it starts with keeping these same people working together in a continuous way, because when people work together every day, productivity and efficiencies grow over time.”

The firm has also been pitching alongside sibling units Digitas Health (which is headed by du Toit) and Medicus International. The idea is to present clients a completely integrated offering so they won't go outside the network for services—particularly digital, where Medicus, a traditional professional shop, is still building capability, and can benefit from Digitas Health's heft.

“It's staying ahead of the marketplace,” says Sansone. “We don't want to be a Kodak or a Blockbuster.” The shop is seeing fewer HCP AOR pitches, and the combo is “a great way to provide integrated solutions to our clients looking for promotional medical education, a consumer aspect and professional.”

The firm holds bimonthly town halls, where employees share best practices, and offers online courses (“Internal CME,” Sansone calls them). Beyond the change at the top, agency leadership remains steady, with Linda Bennett continuing as director of client services, Rich Norman as head of strategy and Nick Mangianello as creative chief.

They won new business from Pfizer in 2012, and they're prepping a launch on that developmental product (one of several launches they're working on at this writing). Other new business in 2012 included a corporate branding assignment from Boston Scientific and Sucampo's Rescula Rx eye drops. Last year, they also worked on a rebranding of a Crest/Oral-B campaign targeting dental professionals (the firm has a 40-year history of working on promotion of consumer brands to HCPs through its work with Procter & Gamble). Sansone won't talk specifics on performance but says they're on track to meet their targets for the year.

Sansone aims to build an agency with a “strong marketing point of view” that can align what they call the “Three Ps”—patients, payers and providers.

"Clients want a multi-stakeholder approach,” he says. “They want one integrated solution, and this is the power of PHCG.”
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