McCann Health taps Sam Taylor as head of its GlaxoSmithKline pharma and consumer business

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McCann Health's new GSK business leader Sam Taylor once ran consumer brands like McDonald's and Honda, but now finds joy in healthcare and pharma work. (Alpha Stock Images)

Sam Taylor began her agency career working on consumer brands like McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda. But nine years ago, she switched to healthcare agencies and pharma brands like Allergan, Roche and Merck—and she never looked back.

Taylor has moved among agencies, accounts and disease states—including her personal passion, respiratory—and landed last month at McCann Health in London. Now, she's heading up the agency's GlaxoSmithKline business.

McCann is "the one network I would switch to as one I really admired. I’ve watched them at Cannes pick up every award going, and the creative drive and caliber of people they attract is just phenomenal,” she said.

In the five weeks since she started, Taylor has been travelling the globe, meeting with GSK clients face-to-face—she spoke to FiercePharma from a quiet corner at Heathrow Airport before a flight to the U.S.—across the respiratory, consumer health, and vaccines areas that McCann runs for them.

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The challenges of agency work in pharma and healthcare—legal, medical and regulatory—force agency people to work much harder to create creative and effective work, Taylor pointed out, but that doesn’t mean she looks back at consumer with longing.

“I can’t say I’d never go back, but moving to healthcare was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said. “I get so much out of the patient aspect, whether that’s launching drugs that will change lives or prolong lives, or improving the quality of life for patients with chronic disease. It sounds cliché, but it’s absolutely true that I relish and love the audience,” she said.

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McCann Health is glad to have her on board as well. As global CEO John Cahill said, in a statement, “In today’s fast-moving business environment, we must not only deliver the highest level of strategic, scientific and creative excellence to our clients, we must also increase our ability to do it with speed, agility and efficiency across the board, Sam’s depth of experience in leading global brands makes her the ideal leader for our important and growing GSK business.”