The Top 50: Ogilvy Healthworld

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This WPP-owned shop’s concentration on four main areas this past year—growth, the quality of its work, staffing and measuring results for clients—appears to have paid off.

“All the indications have been pretty positive,” says Mike Guarini, North America regional president.

The focus has resulted in deeper relationships with clients like Wyeth and Allergen, double-digit growth and minimal business setbacks.

With strong ties to consumer parent Ogilvy, the agency has long traded on its integration ability, boasting a 50-50 mixture between professional and consumer advertising work. The latest client to recognize Ogilvy’s prowess in this area is Allergan, which awarded consumer/professional responsibilities for its breast implant line.

As an increasing number of pharma companies look to place both professional and consumer work with the same agency or within the same network, Ogilvy Healthworld is well-positioned. Guarini says the trend has evolved. When healthcare DTC started, a medical agency was most likely to get the assignment. Once broadcast regulations were relaxed in 1997, business began to shift to large agencies and consumer shops, “because the budgets got bigger and the kind of expertise [clients] wanted was a little bit more,” he says. Some professional agencies continued to rely on partnerships with consumer affiliates in their network to attract combined accounts. In the early part of this decade, clients started to iron out more deals on the network level.

As to why more companies are considering integration, observes Guarini: “Clients are looking for economies, both in terms of getting things done and in terms of how much out-of-pocket fee there is.” Also fueling the trend: the promise of creative synergy, a shorter learning curve when two agencies become one, and tighter management control.

On the strictly professional side comes an assignment for Wyeth’s hormone replacement therapy line, which includes brands like Premarin and Prempro and contraceptive Lybrel. Ogilvy Healthworld had won the relationship-marketing work for the HRT line the year before, leveraging another strong suit.

“Our below-the-line RM and interactive capabilities and assignments are just burgeoning,” reports Guarini. A new assignment in this area is Wyeth anti-depressant Pristiq. Its other below-the-line services include direct marketing, metrics, analytics, database expertise, tele-services and consulting.

RM is gaining prominence in healthcare advertising, with a number of agencies moving to develop or shore up their CRM practices. Ogilvy is no exception. Last September’s hiring of Lita Sands, a well-respected RM specialist in the healthcare space, as client services strategy lead strengthens the practice further. Sands, who once headed CRM at Pfizer, had last served as chief marketing officer for RM boutique Unit 7. “We’re expecting an expansion of both the breadth and depth of the RM method,” Guarini says.

In healthcare, RM serves the same purpose as in other industries, although it’s executed differently. The agency looks to RM to serve a compliance and persistence function for brands. “It also helps you move a brand up from having a physical attribute relationship with the consumer…to a more emotional bond,” Guarini explains. “The best RM programs are designed as dialogues…When [they] work well, the patient becomes very bonded to your product and should exhibit more loyalty.”

Another September hiring—the duo of Rich Levy and Tom Millar as creative co-heads on the professional side—indicates a commitment to ensure the quality of creative. They work in tandem with Jonathan Isaacs, head of DTC at Ogilvy’s consumer shop.

“That’s a very demonstrated representation and exhibition of what we’ve been doing,” Guarini says of the personnel moves. “These are people [who] really are well-known and respected in the industry for their particular craft or discipline. They are the kind of people we want—really the top-caliber people who know what they’re doing, are recognized and can help get results for our clients.”

On that note, a new head of strategic planning, Tom Groves—formerly a strategic planning lead at Cline Davis & Mann—will start this month for Ogilvy Healthworld, marking a renewed emphasis in this area and complementing strategic planning already in place on the consumer side. As for Guarini, he was promoted to president, Ogilvy Healthworld North America, extending his responsibility for all the healthcare disciplines, including DTC and professional operations.
Among the agency’s other key accounts, Merck and Lundbeck ended development on sleep drug Gaboxodol, an assignment for which Ogilvy handled medical education and DTC. The med ed unit also had worked on COX-2 drug Arcoxia, which was pulled out of clinical trials this year by Merck.

Ogilvy’s med-ed unit has grown, though, with new business from Eisai, Lux Biosciences, Novartis and the University of South Florida arriving this past year. And the agency’s relationship with Merck remains strong, with the med ed assignment for oral Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia and the Merck corporate campaign.

Applying metrics to gauge the success of initiatives is another area of focus for the agency, particularly for its RM, direct marketing and interactive services. “David Ogilvy used to say, ‘We sell or else.’ But in the end, you are measured, or should be measured, on how you help your clients achieve their marketing and business goals,” Guarini says. He declines to elaborate on the analytic methods his agency employs. “We certainly don’t measure, nor do our clients measure, every single product initiative done. But there has been in pharmaceuticals more of a discipline applied in the last four to five years in terms of measuring results.”

It’s also important to be agnostic about solutions, he adds. This empowers the agency to make the best recommendations for a client, regardless of where they come from and how it may benefit the agency.

Half of the agency’s revenues stem from overseas work. “We have the largest global healthcare network in the world right now,” Guarini says. That’s well over 50 shops in more than 30 countries. “All of our network offices are owned by us and are freestanding, healthcare, experienced ongoing businesses.”

Priorities for the coming year include continuing to build expertise in its global network. “We’ve got the largest one, but there’s obviously certain parts of the world that are well covered and others where we want to fill in the gaps,” he notes. These are mostly in smaller, growth markets. Next on his to-do list is upping the strength of Ogilvy’s integrated offering, demonstrating that the work is in clients’ best interests, and keeping a close eye on the quality of work. For Guarini, that’s the closest thing to a roadmap: “Do all those things, and the numbers fall into place.”
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