Kim Johnson, a 20-year healthcare veteran, has been appointed global CEO of Ogilvy Health, the agency announced today. 

Johnson, who for the last 18 months has served as EVP of global clients for Ogilvy parent company WPP, will assume her new role July 26. She replaces former global CEO Kate Cronin, who departed the agency last month to become chief brand officer at Moderna.

Johnson will report to Andy Main, Ogilvy’s global CEO, who praised her “entrepreneurial spirit and impressive track record” in a statement.

“I’m excited to get back into agency leadership,” said Johnson, who earlier in her career helmed a variety of healthcare agencies. She added that her network-level role, for which she helped start a collection of health leaders known as the WPP Health Community, has given her a birds-eye view into Ogilvy Health. 

“I know the goals, the transformation and the work Kate was doing with the business and the team,” said Johnson. “I look forward to building on her momentum and the momentum of the whole leadership team.”

In addition to overseeing all aspects of Ogilvy’s Health business – from brand strategy and advertising/PR to med ed, HCP promotion and market access – she’ll be responsible for accelerating the agency’s growth. Revenue declined by 3% in 2020 to an MM+M-estimated $145 million

Asked about potential growth opportunities, Johnson cited two: the diversification of health, with companies both inside and outside the sector looking to partner with health/wellness service providers like Ogilvy; and clients asking for consultation around the changing sales/marketing model as digital transformation accelerates in life science.

“Many of our clients are looking beyond the sales force now and have been for a long time,” Johnson explained. “But the pandemic accelerated our awareness around the need to think about engaging all of our stakeholders – HCPs, patients, payers – in new and different ways.” 

Johnson began her career two decades ago at fellow WPP shop Wunderman, a role in which she oversaw the firm’s pharma business. She then served as president of Syneos’ full-service shops GSW and Palio, eventually helping engineer the merger of the two agencies to form the network’s flagship brand. In between, she was a partner at The Bloc and held marketing leadership roles at Pfizer. She rejoined WPP in February 2020.

Cronin, a 17-year Ogilvy vet, had been global CEO following a promotion last October. Prior to that role, she was co-president alongside Andrew Schirmer, who left to head up GSW’s New York office.