McCann Health looks to break the pharma consulting mold with new unit

McCann Health has launched a new consultancy, Consulting at McCann Health, with two objectives.

The first: consolidate its health consulting agencies. And the second? Ignite fresh thinking in pharma strategy.

Consulting at McCann Health will integrate Double Helix, Complete Clarity and “5 or 6 other businesses” within McCann Health, Simon Holt, who is McCann Health’s global chief business strategy officer and now adds the role of president for the new consultancy, told FiercePharma. Holt and John Cahill, McCann Health's global CEO, made the move after realizing how often they were bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to work on today’s more complicated problems for pharma clients.

“For (pharma company) developers and marketeers, their finish line is not when the drug launches anymore,” Holt said. “Their finish line has to be way out into the marketplace, 18 months down the track, when they have to be able to turn around and say, ‘Reassess us. We’ve collected this data and it’s not just data based on randomized clinical study. This is true-life data and this is why we feel we deserved the label you gave us and why we deserved the price you gave us.'"

Eight phone calls over the weekend after last week’s announcement, all from respected consultants who expressed interest in working for the new entity, confirmed the decision, Holt said. He was gratified by the interest, especially following on the heels of the stamps of approval and excitement from current clients.

One focus of the new consultancy will be injecting "fresh thinking into the industry," Holt said. Holt, who worked on the client side at Novartis for 7 years before joining McCann Health, said that at that time, "the consultants we were seeing to help us with some of our work just provided us with the same old stuff over and over.”

With Consulting at McCann Health, though, he hopes things will be different. “We’re calling it Consulting at McCann Health rather than McCann Health Consulting because McCann Health is a creative fresh innovative ideas factory,” he said.

The other push from Consulting at McCann Health will be around helping pharma develop as brands that improve people’s lives versus companies that market specific drugs. That means helping pharma make the connections to the real human stories behind the brand, including how the brand connects to people and how it’s changing people’s lives in meaningful ways, Holt said.

Some pharma companies have already begun moving in that more broad corporate branding direction. Pfizer, for one, recently released its "Before it Became a Medicine" campaign, which shows the work that goes into bringing a life-saving therapy through the clinic.

- read the release

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