Top 100 Agencies 2015: Wunderman Health

Digital accounts for more than happiness

The Astellas Cares campaign dashboard
The Astellas Cares campaign dashboard

As the WPP-owned Wunderman Health continued its inexorable move to digital from direct marketing in 2014, the agency saw revenues rise 13%, to $100 million. Indeed, according to Wunderman president Becky Chidester, digital work accounted for 90% of its business at the end of 2014 and has risen to 95% of the business mix this year.

“We had a very good year,” she says simply. “We won a number of new opportunities across pharma, consumer health, insurance, technology and services. Our diverse client base is one of the reasons.”

Major client wins included work on the OTC rollout of GlaxoSmithKline's Flonase and with dialysis care provider Fresenius. The agency did endure some client losses, among them Novartis's Excedrin.

Chidester notes that clients, more than ever before, are understanding the need for digital programming in a healthcare marketplace rife with choices and opportunities. At the same time, she says that agencies still need to find metrics that show the impact of digital on sales. “We have more work to do in actually proving digital's impact on sales,” she explains. “We don't have the history and the years of evidence to demonstrate digital's contributions to sales.”

Clients accustomed to using a range of marketing tools to sell products, then, need to learn that in today's world of consumer-centricity, marketing has to be more about helping them solve problems, she continues. “Healthcare consumers today want transparency and they want answers. They're looking for partners who can provide real value to them.”

More often than not, that means digital content that both informs and educates. Wunderman Health will likely continue to expand its content-creation and -curation capabilities in 2015. “Content is one way our clients are looking to differentiate themselves, to be more relevant,” Chidester says.

In fact, content played a major role in the work the agency did for GSK on the Flonase allergy brand. “We used content as a means to fuel activation,” Chidester explains. For that campaign, “content” ended up including everything from the expected YouTube videos to infographics to “material around lifestyles that is intended to drive engagement.” 

Organizationally, key hires included Brenda Fiala as EVP, global strategy, and Anya Sverdlov as SVP, global delivery. Sverdlov came from parent Wunderman's marketing solutions center, where she specialized in tailoring campaigns in local languages to markets around the world. Fiala arrived from Wunderman shop Blast Radius, bringing experience in social media and social marketing. “She has been working with our clients on that digital transformation agenda,” Chidester says.

Elsewhere on the personnel front, the agency saw a major change occur a few rungs up on the organizational chart at the start of 2015. Mark Read was named global CEO of Wunderman, effective Feb. 1. Read had been CEO at WP Digital, a role he continued to hold. Chidester says, happily, that Read has identified Wunderman Health as a “growth pillar” within the agency. As a result, Wunderman Health “is a more formidable entity and a priority of the Wunderman organization.”

One of Read's first moves was to jettison the word “World” from Wunderman Health's name; it had formerly been Wunderman World Health. The word had become redundant, he notes.

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