Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness is known for its work across a wide array of products and conditions, from the pure wellness sphere of moisturizers and nutritional drinks all the way to pharma mainstays such as cardiovascular health and oncology. But this year the agency dipped its toes into a new space courtesy of an unconventional assignment: the development of environmentally friendly pill bottles.

Working with Tikkun Olam Makers, S&S Wellness helped build a biodegradable paper prescription pill bottle that was subsequently made available to all pharmacies. It’s the agency’s way of addressing the scourge of excessive plastic waste in the healthcare industry.

“We thought it was time for another solution, or at least to get the conversation going,” says global chief creative officer Kathy Delaney.

Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

That, writ small, is what differentiates S&S Wellness from other agencies: a phenomenon its leaders refer to as “the wellness effect,” which they describe as a focus that goes beyond simply treating an illness. The agency plans to make this effort official and formally launch the wellness effect platform later this year for clients, patients and employees.

“Wellness is our sweet spot,” explains president Jennifer Shirley. “When we think about why our work is different, we don’t just think about treating illness or creating awareness around a treatment for some condition. It’s about creating a bigger wellness experience.”

That, Delaney adds, includes examining “wellness within illness” — not only for clients, but also employees. Case in point: the firm’s response to the pandemic. “It’s also wellness during tumultuous times, whether a chaotic election or racial unrest. We had to make sure that our employees stayed well amidst all of those things,” Delaney explains.

The year 2020 was one of growth for S&S Wellness, with revenue nudging ahead from an MM+M-estimated $80 million in 2019 to an estimated $85 million in 2020. Head count increased from 340 full-timers at the end of 2019 to 350 a year later. Staff additions included EVP, head of strategy Margot Grover; SVP, HR Jill Cusick and managing director Chris Harris.

S&S Wellness added eight new assignments during 2020, including two in women’s health and another in oncology. The company also expanded its patient services offering. Client mainstays include Novo Nordisk, Alcon and Procter & Gamble.

Shirley plays up the importance of the additions in the women’s health realm, especially in terms of creating work that empowers patients to take action. “Some of these are stigmatized conditions, much like in mental health,” she explains. “How do we overcome the stigma and really empower women to take control of their health needs? For me, that’s why the work is so important.”

Delaney agrees, adding. “I think both of the opportunities are game-changers for women — how they live their lives, how they age and how they break out of those stigmas and get what they want.” 

. . .

The idea I wish I had…

Google’s recent COVID-19 vaccine ad was beautifully simple and exquisitely done, where the concept was just really all about hope. It showed the search engine and took words that people had typed in 2020, searching for things such as virtual play dates — and erasing the words “virtual” or “canceled” and replacing it with a positive action word. It was so hopeful and came at such a right time as we are starting to open up again, as we are starting to get back some of the stuff we missed so much. — Kathy Delaney