IPG Mediabrands launches Healix media buying agency for pharma clients across agency network

The latest media brand in the Interpublic Group stable is a healthcare and life science specialist called Healix. The newly christened agency, in the works for months, officially debuted last week as a full-service IPG media planning and buying group like UM and Initiative.

Healix will specifically serve IPG agency healthcare and pharma clients, which include Teva, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Roche and Merck Animal Health, along with its own clients that may use non-IPG creative shops. Johnson & Johnson will continue to be served by J3, its dedicated media agency under UM.

Jeffrey Erb, Healix’s president, said the new media shop is a chance to bring all IPG life science media thinking under one roof. The three other major ad agency holding companies--WPP, Omnicom and Publicis--also have specialized media groups in life sciences.

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“Life science needs a different kind of expertise and way of looking at media" compared with consumer brands, he said. “To demonstrate and drive an investment in that category, we’re developing new healthcare media innovations that focus specifically on pharma, looking at both the consumer and professional side of pharma.”

Data and analytics will play a big role in the media company, giving the ability to target people and help them navigate through decision processes--and ultimately determine return on investment. Healix uses proprietary tools such as its DNA technology to understand people as individuals and another tool, Pursway--which was originally developed as Israeli anti-terrorism technology--to understand how people influence each other. Its algorithms can find friends of valued customers, for instance, in the same way it could discover like-minded terrorists.

Another key advantage of Healix inside IPG is the ability to partner with creative agencies early in the process to reveal details and understandings about the target audience that can end up guiding the entire creative process.

“More and more we try to encourage creative to work in conjunction with us because it allows a really strong story in the early stages. So when creative is talking about how they’re going to deliver a message, they’ve already got data behind it. They can say with confidence ‘we want to create this message, we know that it will be effective and here’s why,’” Erb said.

With internal consolidation and external hires, Healix opens its doors with about 50 employees, he said, but plans to double that number in the next year, in part through the addition of more global offices.

- read the Healix launch news

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