Saying goodbye to Sudler, WPP Health creates VMLY&Rx, a new agency dedicated to pharma

WPP Health has consolidated its pharma practice under a new agency brand, VMLY&Rx, and officially retired the storied Sudler name.

The new global effort combines all the Sudler health and pharma teams with VMLY&R tech and creative groups to focus on prescription drugmakers and biotechs developing new therapies.

International CEO of WPP Health Practice Claire Gillis oversees the new agency, which expands the health offerings of VMLY&R outside the U.S. and rolls in Sudler’s expertise.

“We’re not just changing the name over the door; we’re bringing new skills in. And we’re giving people the opportunity to direct clients more easily to the Rx part of the business,” she said.

The agency will work with drugmakers on trends including personalized medicine, emerging health technologies and coordinating connected healthcare experiences across stakeholders.

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WPP first started looking at the re-alignment 18 months ago as part of a global strategic review of pharma, healthcare and technology. The COVID-19 pandemic then accelerated the changes, but also added new opportunities for marketers.

“Healthcare marketing and communications has changed unrecognizably even in the last six months. Look at the tech aspect. Now it’s unusual to get any drug to market that doesn’t have a tech element with it,” Gillis said, adding that the pandemic has accelerated “demand for both a better customer experience and better communication experience.”

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With the creation of VMLY&Rx, the Sudler pharma and health agency brand is now fully retired. Sudler was rolled into VMLY&R in the U.S. in 2018, but now will no longer be used in the rest of the world, either.

Sudler and Hennessey was a pioneering brand in healthcare marketing, founded more than 75 years ago. It began as a general market agency, known for creating the NBC peacock logo and Dr. Brown’s soda marketing. It once counted Andy Warhol as an employee.

However, as medical marketing grew in the U.S., Sudler turned its focus to health, according to By 1970, Sudler had become the biggest healthcare agency in the U.S. and stayed on top for 20 years.