Sansone takes director's chair at Medicus

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Adrian Sansone is taking over the managing director's seat at Publicis Lifebrands Medicus, replacing longtime agency boss Lisa Ebert. He is tasked with changing the way the HCP agency operates, including bolstering digital abilities. The change was expected to be announced today.

Sansone will manage PLB Medicus New York, Toronto and its global division, PLB International, which has offices in New York and Paris. He has been with Medicus for seven years, the last two as general manager of its international division where he has led the building of the New York office and traveled among its global affiliates.

Ebert, who has been managing director at Medicus since 2005 and joined the agency in 1995, is leaving to spend more time with family but will assist the agency with some of its planned changes. Under Ebert's direction, PLB Medicus has grown with the infusion of digital. It must become even moreso, executives say.

Physicians—the agency's core audience—are almost fully mobile and are getting a sizable amount of their information online, not unlike patients and payers. The new managing director's mission is to ensure Medicus' view of communications aligns with that of healthcare professionals and other stakeholders.

“We need to create more of a comprehensive communication idea that can connect each of those stakeholders, to ultimately increase the revenue and sales for our clients,” Sansone told MM&M in an exclusive interview about the management change.

In PLB Medicus, Sansone takes over one of the flagship agencies in Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) at a critical time, said Michael du Toit, who was also recently promoted to the role of PHCG president, North America.

“We view Adrian as a change agent to implement what could be a profound shift in the way HCP agencies service their clients,” he said. “If you look at the average HCP agency nowadays, maybe 70-80% of their work is with what they self-report as digital. The physician is 100% digital, so there must be a disconnect.”

It's becoming more common for one agency to handle all creative duties, offline and online, but many full-service agencies of record are still reliant on the pure-play digital shops. Sansone will lead a program aiming to ensure that Medicus is fluent in all the right media, to speak to physicians in terms that allow them to fully engage and, perhaps most importantly, so that clients don't have to ask a second or digital agency to do this work for them.

“We have the ability to do it,” said du Toit. “It's just the will power to say we will do it in an aggressive way.”

One way will be through maximizing assets. PHCG has two sizable digital agencies under its roof—Digitas Health and Razorfish Healthware, recently formed out of Razorfish Health and Publicis Healthware International. Rosetta, another purely digital shop with a healthcare practice, resides within Publicis Groupe's VivaKi unit.

Before coming to Publicis, Sansone worked for Havas's Euro RSCG Life LM&P (recently rebranded as Havas Life Metro) and Ogilvy Healthworld predecessor Girgenti, Hughes Butler & McDowell. He spent time early in his career on the client side, doing oncology research and bench work at OSI Pharmaceuticals.

While du Toit was promoted to the role of North American president of PHCG, he maintains his title as president of Digitas Health. He also has responsibility for PLB Medicus and Medicus International in North America.
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