Historically, Hispanic and multicultural marketing efforts by pharmas have been one-offs and afterthoughts, budget line items deemed expendable and doomed to be raided at the first sign of cuts. McCann HumanCare aims to change that through a partnership with sister agency Casanova Pendrill dubbed HumanCareHSP that the Interpublic shops hope will produce long-term engagement with pharma clients.

“We’ve been talking about the opportunity in the health and wellness space for a long time,” said Casanova Pendrill chief Ingrid Otero-Smart. “The Hispanic market represents 16% of the population. That’s projected to rise to 30% or 40% by 2050, and less than 2% of pharma dollars are spent against this population.”

Other Hispanic marketing agencies may know their market, the shops reason, but they don’t know the Byzantine regulatory apparatus that pharmas must navigate.

“We bring the best of both worlds,” said Otero-Smart. “We know this market intimately and McCann HumanCare knows pharma intimately.”

The HumanCareHSP partners hope to line up long-term assignments on pharma brands instead of the on-again, off-again campaign-based work that’s characterized much of the industry’s communication with Hispanic audiences in the past.

“In healthcare, you get a gold star for having the multicultural conversation, and then the budget cuts come and the first things to go are the things you’re least comfortable with,” says McCann HumanCare managing director Andrew Schirmer. Even when the budget’s there, he said, brands aren’t getting consistent attention from a shop with Hispanic marketing expertise.

“A lot of agencies will bring an in-network multicultural agency in on an opportunity, and that works to a degree, but we have got to end this starting and stopping,” said Schirmer. “We want to work with clients over time – not on an ad hoc basis but in a continuous relationship.”

That means doing more than a Spanish-language version of an ad or a website.

“Historically, very few pharmas have reached out to Hispanics, and if they have, they’ve done so very one-dimensionally,” says Otero-Smart. “You can’t just do your 30-second ad in Spanish and check that box. TV is a part of it, but creating long-term engagement is about more than awareness, more than a single point of interruption.

For example, said Otero-Smart, HumanCareHSP will help clients develop cultural competency courses for physicians.

Costa Mesa, CA-based Casanova Pendrill’s roster consists largely of consumer packaged goods clients, including Nestle, for which the shop handles 13 brands, and General Mills. Other large clients include the US Army and the California Lottery, but the agency has handled some Big Pharma assignments, including work for J&J, Boehringer Ingelheim and GSK. The shop’s competitive set includes Houston-based Lopez Negrete, Detroit shop GlobalHue, WPP’s Bravo Group and Publicis’ Conill, part of the Saatchi & Saatchi network.