Hill Holliday Health spent much of 2021 intensifying its focus on cultural representation. Among the steps it took: creating a cultural review board to ensure that its campaigns and content reflect the needs and preferences of the communities they endeavor to serve.
“Clients are putting a new emphasis on reaching historically underserved populations,” explains managing director Linda Bennett. “They want to address health equity as they help assure there is representation and access to products and services.”
Bennett says the cultural review board was initially envisioned as “an external diverse group that reviews anything that involves culturally specific references and makes sure they are appropriate.” But in recent months, its purview has expanded.
“It’s a real advisory board,” she adds. “Particularly in health, there are a lot of disease states that disproportionately impact certain groups. We are helping clients think tactically in culturally relevant and specific ways.”
Last year also saw a continuation of initiatives around diversity within the walls of Hill Holliday Health itself. The goal: to address racial and cultural diversity in the context of “the backgrounds that people are coming from and the adjacent experiences they bring,” Bennett says.
The agency grew along the way. Revenue nudged upward by 7%, to an MM+M-estimated $75 million from an estimated $70 million in 2020. Head count increased from 200 at the beginning of 2021 to 245 at the end of it.
“I’d like to say it was better than expected. But we have had a few good years, so I am starting to expect it,” Bennett quips. “We were busy right out of the gate.”
Additions included an assignment in the rare disease space from longtime client Novartis. “Anytime there is a community searching for answers and information, it always feels good. It’s not just selling an allergy medication to a billion people,” Bennett says.
At the same time, the agency is trying to sell vitamins and other wellness solutions to a billion people via its work on Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health’s Zarbee’s brand. “The majority of our clients are traditional pharma, but this gets us back into the OTC space,” Bennett notes. “It’s fun and interesting from a different perspective, and it has a lot of growth potential.”
Bennett also points to the agency’s Janssen work as emblematic of the traits that draw clients to Hill Holliday. “We created a huge support website across all their brands, which showed our ability to be agile and responsive, as well as use and integrate data. Having a range of capabilities under one roof and being able to respond quickly to changes are some of the strengths that make us different.” Other client mainstays include IntraCellular Therapeutics, Lundbeck and Regeneron.
Bennett has her eye on another trend: the increasing personalization of healthcare marketing. “We’re using analytics to create more sophisticated one-to-one marketing,” she reports. “It is a continuing development, and one that we are constantly getting better at.”
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Work from outside pharma you admire…
I dig the sweet simplicity of the latest Infinity QX60 spot. It combines a ubiquitous, epic music track with the universally shared parental experience of enduring countless ear-bleeding school concerts, all in service of highlighting the luxury SUV’s benefits of quiet, serene comfort. The sleek, modern set reflects the premium brand — and mom’s evocation of simultaneous pride and pain perfectly reflects those moments we wouldn’t trade for anything. — Bennett