Omnicom's Tribal Worldwide launches standalone Tribal Health agency for pharma clients

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Driven by the rapid move to digital marketing, new standalone agency Tribal Health will help pharma clients adjust and move forward. (Alpha Stock Images)(Attribution: Alpha Stock Images - http://alphastockimages.com/)

Omnicom Group's Tribal Worldwide is spinning out a new pharma specialty unit, Tribal Health, driven by the industry's pandemic-fueled shift to digital. The London-based agency will help clients deal with those modern digital realities and create better brand experiences.

Current Tribal clients moving to the specialty unit's roster include GlaxoSmithKline and Gilead Sciences.

“This has been coming—field forces have been struggling to get in front of customers for the last two or three years—but 2020 has been a catalyst,” said Jason Galla-Barth, a managing partner at Tribal who will lead Tribal Health.

Tribal cited a McKinsey study that found HCP interactions with pharma reps dropped by 65% in the first months of the pandemic.

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Of course, that doesn’t mean sales reps will no longer be necessary, Galla-Barth added. Forward-thinking pharma companies—like GSK, for example, he said—are arming sales reps with more digital tools, such as self-detailing and CRM services, to better engage with physicians. Field forces won’t disappear, they’ll just become more digitally focused.

Going hand-in-hand with the digital surge is a need for data strategy and analytics. In its simplest use, data-crunching might gauge the impact of newly launched websites and make adjustments or reinvestments. On the more sophisticated side? Giving sales reps access to non-personal touchpoint data for customized remote detailing, Galla-Barth said.

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Tribal Health also aims to improve the brand experience for pharma companies.  

“There’s a distinction between brand promise and brand experience,” Galla-Barth said. “Pharma is always slightly behind the curve in terms of consumer brands because it’s such a highly regulated industry, and [because] the selling model uses reps. But that’s changed, and they’ve now got to go think like consumer brands.”