100 Agencies: Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

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Ned Russell
Ned Russell

Saatchi healthcare's New York-based consumer shop had its best year ever in 2011, its leaders say, with strong growth from both new and existing clients.

Revenues were up by a double-digit percentage, said managing director Ned Russell, though he could not divulge much in the way of details about new accounts or numbers. The shop's staff increased a tick to 140.

It wasn't all good news­—Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness lost Merck's Dulera and Nuvaring in a holding-company consolidation. But the firm gained that back and then some with new accounts from such existing clients as Merck, Amylin, Merial (for Certifect and Heartgard) and Novartis, plus new clients like Allergan, which gave Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness its facial aesthetics portfolio, comprised of Botox, Juvederm and Latisse. The shop also landed accounts with Somaxon, for Silenor, and snack foods maker Two Moms in the Raw.

Around half of the firm's revenues come from pure-play digital marketing, with the other half split between traditional advertising and direct marketing. One key area of investment right now is in staying on the cutting edge of digital and mobile.


“One of the benefits we've had is that we can reach into the resources of Publicis in terms of what they've done with their digital acquisitions,” says Russell. “Most of the capabilities for us have been all in-house stuff, so we built it out here, but it's nice to have as you get more ambitious and your business grows.”

Data and analytics is another area of growth for the shop, whose 14-person strategy and insight group services a burgeoning roster.

The firm is also looking at a more service-centric model of the business.

“We definitely see the demand as being more along the lines of guidance and continued communication,” says Russell. “So it's less about having a great ad or a spot that tests well. It's really an overall program for a brand. We tell our guys that we live at the intersection of well-being and technology, and there's a lot that can happen there.”

And the shop continues to fish for business beyond pharma, handling accounts with Nestlé and some project work for the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Saatchi Wellness continues to cultivate its positioning as an industry thought leader—most recently through a series of Social Media Week events and the second iteration of its survey conducted with Time on US attitudes towards health and wellness.

A new website that is currently in the works will “reflect a bit more of the dedication that each of us, individually and collectively, have to wellness and well-being,” says chief creative officer Helayne Spivak, who presides over the agency's 35-person creative team. “It's not just that we're talking about wellness and well-being, but each and every one of us is making a pledge to live it.”

Talent recruitment and retention continue to be a challenge, says Russell – one that the agency aims to meet with a rep for turning out top-notch marketers.

“What's important, and we tell people this, is that when they come in, they're going to have the opportunity to be proficient in three games: digital marketing and technology; direct marketing; and traditional advertising,” says Russell, “which is the skill set that more and more people want. We want them to stay here, but they should know from their time here that they'll have an experience in their career bank that will serve them well for a long, long time.”
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