Hill Holliday Health has named Linda Bennett, a Publicis Groupe veteran, as its managing director.

Bennett will co-lead the health unit with executive creative director David Leonardi with responsibility for its growth strategy. She joined the firm on Monday, reporting to Hill Holiday president Chris Wallrapp. 

Bennett is replacing Scott Rabschnuk, former managing director of the health unit and longtime leader of Hill Holliday’s health practice.

Bennett is planning to use her expertise in different areas of healthcare marketing, especially healthcare provider communications, to Hill Holliday Health’s business.

“I’ve had a long career in healthcare marketing, in particular on the direct-to-physician, HCP side of the business,” she said. “Hill Holliday Health is emerging in this space, in health overall, and have primarily been doing [direct-to-consumer] work up until this point. The things they’re doing in the consumer space are so transferable into health. I’m excited because I’m bringing a complementary skillset [in HCP marketing].”

Wallrapp agreed that it is time for the health unit to expand into other parts of the healthcare industry, like health tech and devices, and diversify its offering.

“We’ve established a great track record in the pharma space, but we’re eager to bring our perspective to other parts of the healthcare industry: medical devices, providers, health tech companies and more,” he said, via email. “In addition, many of our clients are asking us for help with their HCP communications and strategies, which hasn’t historically been a focus area for us. With [Bennett’s] leadership, we’ll be evaluating the best way to expand our service offerings to help clients with their HCP needs, whether through partnerships, owned capabilities or some combination of both.”

Previously, Bennett was co-general manager at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. Her role there will not be replaced, she said, and the agency will be led by general manager Tyler Montague. Bennett has worked at Publicis Groupe agencies throughout her career, including leadership roles at Heartbeat and Publicis LifeBrands. 

She compared her departure from Publicis to dropping her son off at college, saying, “It was my time to leave the nest as well.” 

Hill Holliday Health was launched as a separate entity this year. The agency had a health practice for many years, but decided to create the Hill Holliday Health brand to better compete in the healthcare agencies market.

Adding Bennett to the leadership team is just another way to help the agency set itself apart in the market, Wallrapp added.

“For us, this is a signal that the HHH brand is ready for the main stage in the healthcare marketing industry,” he said, via email. “We’ve been operating somewhat below the radar for the first decade of our existence, however, our growth has been remarkable. We used to say that HHH was the industry’s best-kept secret. But with a proven executive like [Bennett] at the helm, the secret’s out: we’re ready to be a dominant force in the industry.”

The health unit has worked with brands like blood clot treatment Xarelto and diabetes drug Invokana for Janssen, CVS and EmblemHealth, and does consumer work for Novartis, allergy immunotherapy company ALK and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. 

“My goals are to really help the agency be viewed as a truly integrated full-service agency that can work in any area of healthcare communications, whether that’s consumer, HCP, digital or traditional,” Bennett said. “I’m excited to be part of building something from almost the ground up.”