Paul O’Neil
President, Ogilvy CommonHealth ­Wellness Marketing

INDUSTRY VET Paul O’Neil has jumped ship to take the helm at Ogilvy CommonHealth Wellness Marketing. In leaving ICC Lowe (where he was chief growth officer), O’Neil wanted to get back to the blocking and tackling of agency business: working with clients and marketing brands.

“One of the challenges in that role was being a couple steps removed from the actual marketing of health brands,” he explains, “I wanted to get back to working directly with clients and developing marketing and communications programs with them.”

O’Neil, like many others in the industry, began his career working as a sales rep—in his case for Pfizer. Sales led to marketing, and O’Neil soon realized he was on the wrong side of the fence.

“The work I enjoyed the most was being outsourced to the agencies: the creative work and marketing solutions,” he says. O’Neil would go on to work for such mega agencies as Draftfcb and Cline Davis & Mann—racking up 25 years in healthcare marketing. With that kind of mileage, he’s picked up a few things along the way.

“The most important thing is the distinction between people and teams,” he asserts, “people are capable of doing amazing things; teams are capable of absolutely phenomenal things. When you can harness the talent of an individual and apply it to a broader team, that’s where true innovation and success comes from.”

The next step for O’Neil is taking on the health system at large while maintaining his agency’s integrity. “One of the chief concerns going forward,” he says, “is that the healthcare system has some misaligned objectives or incentives. We’re looking to realign people around the common cause of improved health outcomes.”

“You think about what we do, and really delving into the human psyche, and what really motivates [people] to change behaviors,” O’Neil says, “It comes with a lot of responsibility to be true to our audience all the time.”