Revenue increased 4% to an MM&M-estimated $125 million
“We’re doing more sophisticated, true multichannel marketing. We’re helping clients go through that customer-journey process not just to look for pain points, but to use data to understand how to alter that journey and customer experience”
“It’s not like our clients don’t offer a lot of different services — they do, but it’s about getting these services activated. The use of data will drive our understanding of motivations and barriers”
Wunderman Health’s story, especially as it pertains to its early embrace of all things digital, has been told before in some detail. However, those tellings have occasionally played up the firm’s digital-mindedness at the expense of the numerous other services it performs quite ably.
Outside the digital realm, the agency recently invested in research around what CEO Becky Chidester refers to as “health inertia,” which is part of an effort to better understand how to drive positive health behaviors. The research was conducted across a range of chronic conditions, ranging from allergies to COPD. The results, unveiled in June, proved eye-opening.
“Probably the most interesting learning was that people, regardless of their health condition, don’t see themselves as being sick,” Chidester adds. “They give themselves too much credit, which is part of the reason why they don’t take more action.”
The research also revealed a division among patient populations. “We have greater evidence that there are two distinct groups: People who are active and those who lapse constantly,” Chidester adds. “You engage the first group by playing to their interests and needs; the second group might require resetting your goals and expectations.”
Insights gleaned from the research have already started to inform Wunderman Health’s work, especially with recently rostered insurance-world clients UnitedHealth Group and Centene. “We can really help them understand their consumers, whether they are under 65 or over. There is a big difference in how these groups view health,” Chidester notes.
Elsewhere, Wunderman more than doubled its number of AOR accounts in 2016 from 10 to 21. And in July last year, it emerged from GlaxoSmithKline consumer healthcare’s agency consolidation derby with a range of new digital work spanning numerous brands and geographies. The experience, she says, was “a real vote of confidence. It’s a perfect example of a client that’s committed to digital transformation.”
It also makes them a bit of an exception. “There is not a client out there that wouldn’t say digital is important to their business. But does the budget commitment match what they’re telling us? Not necessarily,” Chidester continues. “It falls upon us to show clients that digital is actually contributing to revenue and sales — and they don’t always fund that. We’ve had to take it upon ourselves to demonstrate it.”
This frustration notwithstanding, Wunderman Health did a good job of making its case: Revenue increased to an MM&M-estimated $125 million during 2016, up from $120 million the year prior. The agency also added 50 full-timers, running its total to 400. Notable arrivals included SVP, strategy and audience driven marketing Deborah Furey, who joined from Merkle.
Chidester is optimistic about the firm’s fortunes for the rest of 2017, expecting it to be “a strong growth year.” However, she cautions the marketing challenges remain daunting, even for a firm like Wunderman that anticipated the industry’s digital transformation. “Everybody’s on the path of change,” she notes. “But driving people to take action is hard. You can’t lose sight of that.”