Better together: McCann and FCB health chiefs talk strategy and strengths in creating IPG Health

IPG Health's newly formed health network of FCB Health and McCann Health tallied $649 million in 2020 U.S. revenue. (IPG Health)

With 39 agencies now under its collective umbrella, there aren’t many pharma marketing challenges that the new IPG Health can’t address. And that’s the point, say IPG Health’s executive chairman John Cahill and chief commercial officer Mike Guarino.

Marrying McCann Health’s global footprint and science communication strengths with FCB Health’s creativity and specialty data strategies adds up to one giant health and pharma advertising network with little competition, the executives figure.

Both Cahill and Guarino are adding IPG duties to their current roles—Cahill continues as global CEO of McCann Health and Guarino as chief commercial officer at FCB Health.

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The deal is not a merger created for cost efficiencies or other operational gains, Guarino said, but rather a client-based move.

It's designed to give “extended diversity and the choice to work with whichever agency they want in whichever manner they feel appropriate. Flexibility and choice were key drivers for this,” he said.

Cahill added that while IPG Health is new, it is an evolution of McCann and FCB health networks “working in an open architecture system together for well over a decade” inside the Interpublic Group holding company.

So why now? While many think the pandemic caused the join-up, it’s been discussed on and off for years, Cahill said.

Still, the changes in the pharma industry that the COVID-19 pandemic caused did accelerate timing. Changes such as a lift in what Cahill calls “societal trust” spurred by new partnerships between government, industry, medical and science communities are creating new challenges—and opportunities—for pharma companies.

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“How will the industry now take that lift ... and make sure that societal trust is extended well after the pandemic leaves us?” he said. “With IPG Health and the two brands, we’re focused on what can we do to help the industry achieve that.”

The new IPG Health includes perks for employees as well, who can now look at career changes across both McCann Health and FCB Health. Coordinated continuing education is on the docket, too. A just-launched IPG Health summer innovation series with 30 sessions in July and August open to employees and clients looks at ”what’s next” in areas like virtual collaboration, artificial intelligence, social media as well as creativity and will continue with another series in the fall.

FCB Health and McCann Health are two of the largest health agencies in the country with combined 2020 U.S. revenue of $649 million, according to Advertising Age reporting. They're also successful creative networks, both coming off double-digit award wins at the virtual Cannes Lions Health, where FCB Health also nabbed healthcare agency network of the year.

“Both agencies are leaders in the industry, coming off the most successful year each has had in over a decade in terms of growth, creativity and client satisfaction. Pulling them together at a moment of strength is really the right thing to do,” Guarino said.