McCann Health hires first global digital chief, emphasizing growth and importance of digital

Pointing up the importance of digital in its business, McCann Health has hired its first global chief digital officer, highlighting the agency’s focus on building out digital capabilities and an increase in digital assignments from its clients, including GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer and Janssen.

Marcus Sigurdsson, previously McCann Health’s Asia Pacific regional digital chief, said his priorities include expanding McCann Health’s digital offerings for clients, promoting innovation and advancing data and analytics capabilities.

“The challenges that we encounter and opportunities we benefit from are all related to how we relate and respond to the change,” he said in an email interview when asked about challenges in digital. “I believe that we live in the best of times for both brands and creative agencies. Technology allows us to be more relevant, add more value and create better experiences than ever.”

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Balance is important, Sigurdsson said, in keeping both technology and people in focus in digital marketing. Agencies and clients can often go too far in either direction, he said, focusing too much on technology and not enough on people, or shying away from technology because it’s outside their comfort zone.

His plans include working closely with McCann Worldgroup parent and global digital chief Sean MacDonald, as well as the tech and startup communities.

McCann’s move to elevate digital falls in line with expert forecasts for the coming year. DRG Digital recently predicted U.S. ad budgets will shift from TV to digital in 2018. One example DRG cited: comments from Allergan chief commercial officer Bill Meury, who said social media and emerging analytic techniques will allow for more efficiencies than TV advertising.

DRG also noted that the same predictions by other experts fell flat in previous years. But 2018 will be different, the DRG analysts contend, because digital platforms are now making serious bids for pharma ad dollars and new specialty drugs will get more for their money in targeted digital than they would on TV.