jason kahner
Jason Kahner

Grey has launched a health and wellness practice led by president Jason Kahner.

The firm, part of WPP, has blue chip health clients on its roster including GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Nestlé and FitBit. Health and wellness clients make up nearly half of the agency’s roster, Kahner said, and account for more than $160 million in revenue.

Grey has launched the practice in its New York, Montreal, London and Düsseldorf offices, with plans to expand to Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Grey’s health and wellness practice will also partner with WPP’s health practice on new business and other initiatives. Globally, there are about 500 employees working in the practice at Grey.

In October, WPP merged its standalone health agencies with its full-service agencies, adding to or creating health practices within the creative shops. Sudler & Hennessey merged with VMLY&R to create the VMLY&R health practice; Ogilvy CommonHealth became part of Ogilvy; and ghg merged with Wunderman, which later merged with JWT. Ghg operates separately from Grey.

Kahner said the goal of the latest move is to enable agencies to share talent across verticals, which he plans to do with the Grey health and wellness practice. That desire mimics Kahner’s own background, which is a mix of health, consumer and corporate clients.

“Grey is the only one that hasn’t had anything merged in with it,” Kahner said. “With the advent of the global health and wellness practice, we are being very fluid with our talent base. We’ve been winning the majority of our pitches when we cross-pollinate our creative teams. There certainly needs to be specialized talent, like medical writers or editors, and they play a distinct and important role. In mixing the talent up, we’re able to provide a truly engaging, innovative and immersive experience.”

Kahner has worked at Grey for 14 years. His previous role was global MD for Grey’s GlaxoSmithKline account, which he will continue to lead in his new role as president of the health and wellness practice.

Kahner has also headed accounts across sectors from healthcare to retail to finance. Before joining Grey, he spent six years at FCB as director of marketing. Earlier in his career, he worked at agencies including Griffin Bacal and DMB&B.

Another goal of the practice is to expand Grey’s reach beyond the pharma industry. Grey has had long-standing relationships with many pharma clients, like working with GSK since 1954, Kahner said, but he also wants to tap into new areas from wellness tourism to health tech.

“The reason for the dedicated practice is to put increased focus on growing and recognizing the enormous opportunity we have in the health and wellness space,” he said. “Many businesses could achieve considerable returns from investing in health and wellness. It’s not going to be for everyone, but there are a lot that with a tweak of their positioning, different thinking about their portfolio or if they cast a different eye on it, could unearth a health opportunity.”