Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness fuses with PLBM to create next-gen health agency

Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness managing director J.D. Cassidy addresses the SSW and PLBM combined employees at a first-day breakfast last week.

Ready for Wellness 2.0 ad agencies? Publicis Health last week integrated agency Publicis LifeBrands Medicus into Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness in a bid to create the next iteration of health agencies. The move combines PLBM’s healthcare provider heritage with Saatchi Wellness’ data and creative expertise. 

With more resources and greater ability to scale, the 350-employee-strong agency can also better address the rising tide of wellness culture, said J.D. Cassidy, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. At the new agency’s core is Saatchi’s proprietary Wellness Intelligence platform, which uses data and analytics along with traditional techniques and research, to create marketing and communication that “resonates on a personal, human level.”

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The first pharma company clients of the combined agency include AbbVie and Pfizer, with which both agencies having existing relationships. The PLBM merger is only in North America; it will remain an independent brand in Japan.

“The resulting agency has a healthy balance in terms of work that is consumer-focused and work that is HCP-focused. We have both of those audiences covered, and we have the journeys of both of those audiences covered both separately and distinctly, but we also have the patient-physician journey together,” Cassidy said in an interview.

He added that the merger is not about just integrating the HCP and patient practices, but rather integrating the two agencies' different audience capabilities for those two groups.

At the end of 2015, Publicis Groupe consolidated into four hubs: Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient and Publicis Health. That move was meant to break down barriers between agency brands and offer more integrated services to clients.

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The new Saatchi Wellness inside Publicis Health looks to tap into the broader wellness industry, which was estimated to be worth $3.7 trillion in 2016 and is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, according to Global Wellness Institute research. Even companies without a traditional health and wellness focus are exploring those opportunities, Cassidy noted.

Saatchi Wellness, for instance, is working with cereal giant Kellogg’s as well as a major skincare company to develop wellness angles and strategies. For pharma clients, the agency can draw on those consumer packaged goods experiences—in beyond-the-pill type pharma work, for instance. Cassidy said.

“It’s an exciting time for pharma marketing because I think people are really celebrating the stories behind the science and not just the product. Behind a great brand is usually a great story. We believe in the power of a great story and our clients are starting to embrace that, too,” he said.