Asked for a quick-hit description of HealthWork’s 2017, CDM president Chris Palmer succinctly responds, “We grew everywhere that matters.”

While revenue and staff size remained at the same level in 2017 — an MM&M-estimated $30 million and 45 full-timers — HealthWork enjoyed roster growth and laid the groundwork for an international push. Its organic growth, managing director Denise Henry believes, defied the conventional wisdom that most healthcare and pharma organizations are tightening their belts.

“While the overall message in healthcare is that budgets are getting constricted, we’ve seen organic growth on every account,” she notes. “On our biggest accounts, we had double-digit organic growth because our clients started seeing us as more than just a typical AOR.”

Henry credits much of the growth to HealthWork’s expansion of its data and analytics capabilities. The agency — itself a health-specific partnership between Omnicom siblings The CDM Group and BBDO — forged a close working relationship in 2017 with Omnicom’s data marketing specialist Annalect.

healthwork agency

Henry similarly touts the firm’s two new clients, Abbott Diagnostics and medical device giant Stryker. HealthWork saw three assignments end when the brands in question lost patent exclusivity and ceased marketing activity.

The Stryker addition could prove the start of another trend. HealthWork hopes to diversify its client base beyond traditional pharma, which will likely mean a focus on the devices, med tech, and wellness spaces.

“We’re still deeply involved in the pharma side as well, so we’re just taking advantage of some opportunities that have come our way,” Palmer says.

HealthWork experienced a major personnel shift when BBDO president Kirsten Flanik became CEO after longtime leader John Osborn left the firm. That means Flanik now has more direct oversight over HealthWork and can bring to the table her background with consumer brands such as Mars.

Henry reports HealthWork plans to open offices in Paris, Barcelona, London, and São Paulo to service four pieces of global business it already has in hand. “Internationally, we’re launching the collaboration we’ve been able to refine over the past eight years,” Henry says. “We figured out why [the CDM-BBDO partnership] has been so successful and we’ve created a way to teach our global partners how to make it work in their markets.”