W2O Group bulks up on digital and data execs, setting the agency up for future growth

W2O Group's latest executive hires reinforce its digital- and data-driven business drive on behalf of pharma clients. (Alpha Stock Images)

W2O Group is boosting its digital and data leader ranks, positioning for a continued emphasis on digital in pharma post-pandemic.

Jo Ann Saitta is taking over as the group's global chief digital officer, joining from the Omnicom Health Group network where she held the same role. Also joining the group are Marcos Mendell as executive vice president for health platforms innovation and Larry Mickelberg as group president in technology and engagement.

Mendell comes from Syneos Health, where he led commercial and omnichannel solutions, while Mickelberg joins from Deloitte Digital, where he was a managing director.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, W2O was leaning into digital, snapping up like-minded companies, bulking up on talent and scoring business wins. Its projected revenue of $335 million for 2020 is a more than 50% increase over 2019.

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“I came here because they’re on a mission to be a healthcare innovations company and change the way healthcare operates through tech enablement and through data-driven communications," Saitta said. "COVID has, unfortunately, proven the need for all of us to be much more digitally enabled, but the most important thing we’ve learned is that our health is really the key to all of our happiness—and the future.”

She sees W2O, along with other pharma agencies and service providers, as role models for digital transformation for the industry. By walking the walk as more tech-enabled and data-driven companies, they can serve as proof points for pharma.

However, while pharma may lag in its outward digital prowess, the industry hasn’t been ignoring the trend. In fact, Saitta said she works with many clients who have invested significantly in marketing technology infrastructure and data-gathering tools. The pandemic only accelerated the amount of data—and the need for quicker analysis and action.

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That’s where agencies step in and help pharma figure out what to do with all of that technology and data. The rapid shift to digital in communications, drug launches, telemedicine and remote detailing during the pandemic only intensified that need.

“We’ve seen a lot of companies having to launch products virtually and operate in hybrid models with sales forces not able to go into offices, so now we need to figure out how to learn from that, take the good from it and keep building on it,” she said.