The past 12 months have seen major management changes and a deeper, more concentrated focus on client relationships at the New York-based WPP shop Ogilvy Healthworld.

The agency recently promoted Donna Tuths to regional president, North America, as it sets its sights on being on the cutting edge of successful healthcare marketing efforts.

Over the past year, a Tuths-lead Ogilvy Healthworld saw business emanate from existing clients Allergan (Lap-Band for weight-loss surgery and Sanctura for overactive bladder control) and Johnson & Johnson (ADHD drug Concerta). Other new business came from Takeda Pharmaceuticals (lapaquistat); Sanofi-Aventis (Xyzal); various assignments from Roche Diagnostics and consumer RM for Smith & Nephew knee and hip prosthetics.

“Our roster looks very different compared with even just four years ago,” she says.

Tuths brought a wealth of consumer and B-to-B marketing experience to Ogilvy, when she joined the agency in late 2003 to focus her consumer marketing expertise on healthcare clients. Tuths was former president of Organic New York and managing director of Y&R Wunderman New York, where worked on direct marketing campaigns as global lead for AT&T and IBM.

Growing up in a medical family also helped when it came time to focus on healthcare marketing, she explains. “My father was a doctor, my mother was a nurse and my sister was a nurse” she says. “Healthcare was normal conversation at my house.”

As her conversation with MM&M turns to recent management changes at Ogilvy Healthworld, Tuths says, “There are different leaders for different times… I think the formula and space we are playing in requires a lot of new skills from a lot of new places.”

She speaks with reverence about (Ogilvy Healthworld worldwide chairman and CEO) Steve Girgenti, who has brought “so much” to the industry. “He is a fountain,” she says. “Talking with him brings me back to so many different moments over the past 25 years.…Those guys were pioneers and I am very excited to be taking over from them.”

In late 2006, Ogilvy Healthworld further sparked its innovation drive, bringing aboard a key new team member. Lita Sands, former CRM czar at Pfizer, came aboard and was initially charged with heading the agency’s client services. She now serves as Ogilvy Healthworld’s chief marketing officer. Tuths says her work relationship with Sands dates back to Ogilvy’s RM work for Pfizer, which began back in 2004.
Tuths says, “Some of the best relationships with clients are the ones where we train each other. Lita and I have always been colleagues. One day I said, ‘This is crazy. Why are we competing against each other?’”  

As strategic changes in personnel occur, Ogilvy Healthworld has also grappled with bringing itself under “one umbrella,” Tuths says. And although the physical creation of a singular integrated marketing agency has its challenges, it also has had its rewards for clients. “Clients now have access across competencies,” she says. “It has become very attractive to them because we now have totally integrated the account team under one leader…We didn’t do it for an efficiency play. We did it because it made sense given what our assets are.”

Among those assets is Ogilvy’s sizeable account planning staff under Tom Groves, former head of strategic planning at Cline Davis & Mann. Ogilvy Healthworld has 20 full-time strategic planning people. “In comparison, a lot of consumer places, might have only three or four,” Tuths says. “I’d like to think we place a tremendous emphasis into understanding who the customer is.”

To continue to foster innovation and growth, Ogilvy Healthworld plans to remain open to good ideas, whether they come from within the industry or from the outside. It was, after all, one such “outside” idea that lead to the creation of Ogilvy Healthworld’s award-winning work on, for Wyeth’s HRT franchise. “One of the interesting things about, which was absolutely groundbreaking for its time, is that some of the underlying ideas were actually pioneered for IBM,” Tuths explains. “We took some of those core ideas and used them as a jumping-off point for a way to re-imagine a website around an important conversation.”

Success with has had Ogilvy Healthworld creatives continuing to ask: “can we use something like this” for the professional space, Tuths says. The biggest reason behind this line of thinking is that the average time spent on the site by consumers is 8 to 9 minutes. “How many other things get 8 or 9 minutes of mindshare?” Tuths asks. “With some of these newer technologies we need to continue to think not necessarily about how to circumvent sales reps but how to make them more effective.”

Finding new ways to amplify the rep will continue to shape agency objectives and approaches, Tuths says. As it moves forward, Ogilvy Healthworld is paying especially close attention to the “white space” that exists in digital marketing to physicians and other healthcare providers.  “There are number of new things we are doing including e-detailing and even teledetailing, which are all working really well in some of the scientific categories,” Tuths says. “It seems that every one of our clients has built a new platform designed to reach health care providers.” That audience is also increasingly including nurses. “In fact, nurses spend an incredible amount of time on the web and reaching them is important in several therapeutic categories,” she says.

The agency has made it known that its Ogilvy Healthworld medical education practice has continued to grow in the US and abroad. New assignments for the US med ed unit, lead by Martin Skelton, included perampanel, an experimental drug for Parkinson’s disease by Eisai, Bayer cancer drug Nexavar, Cephalon pain drug Fentora, and the GVAX experimental cancer vaccine by Cell Genesys.
Agency leaders say the group continues to move forward in developing global, network-wide med ed capabilities, concentrated within regional centers of excellence to emerging markets.

Meanwhile, Ogilvy Healthworld is also thinking globally in its search for new ideas, Tuths says. “We have the largest global network of any network—55 offices in 33 countries and they are our offices,” Tuths explains. “We are not riding on the tails of the larger Ogilvy unit, these are Ogilvy Healthworld offices.”

The agency currently maintains two global hubs—one in London and one in New York. “Ironically, we are running a global launch for a European company out of New York,” Tuths says. “That’s when you know things have become interesting.”

In the months ahead, Tuths hopes to continue to broaden her agency’s client base and reputation as a marketing stalwart. “We have a couple of new relationships that I am excited about,” she says.
The agency is also reported to be on the verge of launching a specialist oncology group as well as groups specializing in publications planning, training and other areas of expertise.

In 2009, Ogilvy Healthworld will complete a physical move to a new office building at 46th Street and 11th Avenue on Manhattan’s west side. “We are excited about that,” Tuths says. “We are going to be changing our space and experimenting with an open office environment that will have almost 200 people per floor.”

New ideas and new growth illustrate that, within WPP, Ogilvy Healthworld is the “up and comer,” Tuths says. “We are focused on doing the right work. We are not working to produce wallpaper.…These are the years of change.”