Top 100 Agencies: Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

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Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness was the shop for blockbuster brand TV ads in the Oughties, and they seem to be weathering the post-primary care world pretty well. That's in part because they still have blockbusters—five as of last year. They've also been repositioning themselves as the go-to for creative driven by strong consumer behavioral insights and for health and wellness brands beyond pharma.

“We define wellness in very broad terms,” says new chief creative officer Kathy Delaney. “It's everything from beauty to fitness to physical and mental wellness.”

Adds managing director Ned Russell: “It used to be ‘Oh, you're in healthcare advertising, just be happy with it and move on.' But if you have the right people and the right skill set, there's lots of other stuff you can do.”

In 2012, the shop picked up consumer and CRM business for existing clients including Novartis' Gilenya and Extavia; Boehringer Ingelheim Oncology; Allergan's Botox Chronic Migraine, Botox Neurology and Natrelle; and Merial's Certifect and Heartgard. They also added new clients Sunovion, for Stedesa, and Salix, for Solesta, to their roster. Wins this year include migraine treatment Levadex for Allergan, and Russell says they're on track to have their best year ever.

“Last year we represented four of the top 10 selling prescription pharmaceuticals,” says Russell, “and when they wind down, it's often a much easier letdown than people expect, because it dials down over a number of years. And we have been growing because within those client organizations and with new clients, we do a good job, and so instead of one big brand, we'll get three regular-sized ones.”

The shop's headcount has risen modestly to 150 (they were at around 140 last year).

And those wellness brands beyond pharma? Russell says he can't talk about new clients in that space, but points to the shop's Go Red campaign for the American Heart Association and its work for SmartTots, which funds pediatric anesthesia research. The agency has also worked with Nestlé and Two Moms in the Raw.

The agency made some key hires. Delaney replaced Helayne Spivak after she left the agency world for Virginia Commonwealth University's VCU Brandcenter, and Hensley Evans came on board from imc2, where she was chief strategy officer and grew the pharma practice from $3 million to $30 million.

Digital and CRM now makes up three-quarters of the shop's work, even as it continues to service some big TV advertisers. “We're really proud of that, because in our space, that is the center of the universe,” says Russell.

“One of the reasons our digital and CRM business is growing so much is that we're able to convince clients that a large part of their responsibility in this space is behavior change,” says Delaney. “It's not just selling pills to people. It's about supplying them with the right tools to become more healthy.”
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