Euro RSCG Life 4D functions as the Havas network’s digital healthcare laboratory and as an agency in its own right. And the fast-growing shop is expanding outside the US, opening a London office last year and now a joint venture in China.
In November, Havas inked a deal with MedMed, a 14-year-old, 260-person agency with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, giving the 4D healthcare shop entrée into that booming market. Next stop: Brazil, which Havas Worldwide Health chief digital officer Larry Mickelberg says is “on the agenda for this year.” The shop also set up a digital production unit in Heredia, Costa Rica, last July that’s servicing the entire network with a staff of 30.
Business was good in 2011, says Mickelberg, who won’t divulge specifics but says it was the shop’s third consecutive year of double-digit revenue growth. New talent came from Wunderman, Publicis Modem and Tribal DDB’s Agency.com, adding around 20 staff for a total of 125. Wins included a global digital AOR assignment on a potentially big prelaunch CNS product. The shop has participated in “a number of successful pitches” over the past year, both on its own and in tandem with sibling shops, says Mickelberg, and saw “several important wins” that got 4D onto the digital rosters of two big drug companies.
“All of the agencies in the network have digital capacity, but sometimes the scale or complexity of the opportunity necessitates that we partner with them,” says Mickelberg. “A big part of our job is to ensure that our sibling agencies can manage digital independently, and so we develop platforms and intellectual property that we then send onto the agencies. We always have to be on the cutting edge of what’s next.”
The shop lost one promising piece of business due to the failure of dalcetrapib, the “good” cholesterol candidate that Roche dropped after disappointing clinical trial results back in May.
Recent work includes the Mealtime Masters campaign for Sanofi insulin Apidra, with a reality TV–style cook-off series judged by celebrity chef Chris Smith.
“The content has a playful nature, and it’s as good as cable-TV-network food programming,” says Mickelberg.
The Havas shop, which handles an even split of consumer and professional work, sees the iPad as a game changer—so much so that every agency employee was given one last year.
“We think it’s so revolutionary for our clients that we wanted to put one in the hands of everyone in the agency so that they could not only experience it but also come up with ideas and approaches for using it in our work,” says Mickelberg. An internal app contest generated a number of ideas that were good enough to share with clients.
he shop is also following the emergence of “always on” health monitoring systems closely, looking to close the loop between doctors, patients and caregivers.
“This dynamic shared view of the patient’s status is really a breakthrough in the way our clients can communicate to and offer services to all parties,” says Mickelberg. “So we are not in the business of pushing advertising and messaging—we are in the business of real time news, information and support for better health. I would shudder if you were to call Life 4D an advertising agency. We are in a completely different business today, and I think we are leading amongst our competitors in this space.”