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Agencies Healthcare Business on the Move

Healthcare brands pick new AORs after busy year


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

November 19, 2021 | 6 min read

This week, we consider new client wins at Essence, iProspect, Ogilvy PR and how the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry’s strong year has benefited agencies.

picture of a doctor holding a child's toy stethoscope

The coronavirus pandemic, and the advent of vaccinations against the disease, has been big business for pharmaceutical companies and private healthcare concerns. Pfizer, for example, expects to bring in $30bn more in 2021 than it did in 2019.

It has also made them far more willing to get their brands out there, leading to an increase in spending with their agency partners. Publicis Groupe’s health operations saw double digit growth for the sixth quarter in a row, it revealed in its latest quarterly earnings report. Similarly, WPP’s third quarter results revealed that its healthcare and pharmaceutical practices accounted for 11% of its clients and had seen net revenue growth of 7% over three months, while Omnicom saw similar growth (6.6%) at its healthcare specialist division.

To paraphrase Claire Gillis, international chief exec of WPP Health, who spoke to me about this back when the first Covid-19 vaccines were approved, the reason for this activity is because pharma and health companies see 2021 as a chance to change their image from the bad news bogeymen at the center of the opioid crisis to white knights in white coats.

Perhaps that explains healthcare providers in the US going shopping for new agencies of record. This week, Alignment Healthcare, a health insurance firm operating in California, Nevada and North Carolina, made Doner its agency of record. John Kao, founder and chief executive officer of Alignment, said: “This new partnership marks an investment in our brand’s growth and we are looking forward to Doner’s strategic acumen and data-driven creativity to help us further highlight Alignment’s long-standing heritage of serving seniors across the country.”

Matching with Alignment’s core market of older people, Doner’s first brand campaign is set to roll out using digital advertising, social, regional TV, direct mail and out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

Similarly, ’hearing solutions’ company Phonak has chosen Critical Mass as its digital agency of record. It has tasked the agency with improving its B2B and B2C web experiences. “Hearing well is essential to living life to the fullest,” said Jon Billings, vice-president of Phonak Marketing. “Each of our consumers has a unique experience with hearing loss, so a personal and meaningful experience with our brand is crucial. Critical Mass is a leader in the digital and technology space, and we’re excited to partner with them to better people’s lives.”

Cadbury shifts PR account

Moving from healthcare to healthy-only-in-reasonable-quantities, Cadbury has shifted its PR account to Ogilvy PR-owned Tin Man Communications after nine years with Golin. David Mills, communications director at Mondelez, told PR Week: “Following a review of our consumer agencies, we’re delighted to appoint Tin Man to work across our baked snacks category and Ogilvy on our confectionery brands, including the nation’s favorite, Cadbury.”

The other unavoidable account move saw Google consolidate its entire global media account with Essence. The agency already handled digital and progammatic for the search giant, but offline media was previously handled by Omnicom Media Group’s PHD and OMD. Overall media billings may be worth as much as $2.5bn, according to Campaign US.

Moves you may have missed

  • iProspect has bagged the global media account for Kering – the company that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen and Ylsse Nardin fashion houses, among others. The appointment follows a four-month-long review.

  • Iberia, Vueling, Level and IAG Cargo have selected Havas Media Group as their global media partner, commencing March 2022. Previously, IAG had selected Omnicom Media Group as the media and SEO partner for British Airways, while BA’s creative account was granted to Uncommon.

  • Dunkin’ has picked Anomaly as its new creative agency of record; BBDO had held the account for three years.

  • Recipe box company Gousto has chosen digital PR agency Bottle PR to grow is backlink profile and improve search rankings.

  • Orvis, a family-owned outdoor retailer (translation: canine paraphernalia, fly-fishing gear and those padded gilets people wear while hunting) has hooked McGarrah Jessee to boost its brand awareness.

  • Havas Entertainment has been appointed without a pitch by games publisher Modern Wolf. The agency is tasked with launching Mechajammer, its new cyberpunk title.

  • Cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp has chosen digital agency Roast as its global online media partner; Roast already worked with the exchange in 26 markets, but now has responsibility for its global remit.

  • Innocean USA has been made agency of record by two new clients – insurer Pacific Life and video game publisher Gravity.

If you’ve got a client win to tell us about, email me at

Agencies Healthcare Business on the Move

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