W2O grabs Pure Communications to forge bicoastal life sciences marketing shop


Healthcare communication mergers show no sign of stopping. Two smaller veteran teams, W2O Group and Pure Communications, are fitting their complementary skill sets into one marketing multitasker.

Jim Weiss of W2O Group and Andrea Johnston of Pure Communications founded their healthcare marketing companies within three years of each other; he in 2001, she in 2004. W2O Group is now buying Pure and merging it with its BrewLife agency.

The merger fits the two groups together like puzzle pieces. Pure brings its public relations and investor relations expertise, while BrewLife brings creative, digital and analytical services. The two have no overlapping clients, but expect to offer the broadened full range of services to both sets of current clients within a few months.

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"It's been about scale, reach, talent and services. We want to be as competitive as we can be in this marketplace," Johnston, who'll be CEO of the combined agency, told FiercePharmaMarketing. "As you grow and your clients grow with you, the demand for talent and certain other capabilities also grows."

Still, even with combined forces, the current pharma marketing environment is a tough one. Competition is heating up. Outcomes-based healthcare and an influx of new technologies offer new opportunities--but complicated demands as well.

"We've adapted our business over the past few years to look beyond traditional media. Social and digital media are much more critical in healthcare than they ever were and will continue to be, particularly mobile," Weiss said.

And then there's the image problem, as one scandal after another paints pharma as opportunistic price-gougers. "That's a challenge for pharma companies," Weiss said, "and will continue to be a challenge for pharma, and device companies, to show the value of their therapies through data."

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