WPP's health reorganization brings 3 agencies under larger umbrellas

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WPP plans to integrate its health and pharma agencies and capabilities into its broader core agency groups. (Alpha Stock Images)

WPP is merging its health agency brands into its traditional agencies. The holding company announced Wednesday that it would integrate three well-known health agencies into health practices at three of its core agency groups.

Ogilvy CommonHealth, Sudler and ghg brand names will be phased out in the U.S. as each folds into a larger WPP agency next year.

Ogilvy CommonHealth will rejoin the Ogilvy Group as part of the new Ogilvy Health practice. Sudler will combine with VMLY&R to create VMLY&R Health. And ghg will move to the existing Wunderman Health.

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Staying the same are the Grey and J. Walter Thompson agencies, which will continue with their existing health offerings.

The WPP Health & Wellness sub-holding company, created in January 2017, will be phased out as the healthcare agencies find homes inside the larger WPP group. Mike Hudnall, currently the CEO of WPP Health & Wellness, will lead the new WPP health offerings and report directly to WPP CEO Mark Read.

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The changes will help meet clients’ need for integrated solutions as well as work to fulfill Read’s vision for a simpler and more integrated WPP, Hudnall said.

The health industry in the U.S. is “in an incredible state change and our clients’ needs are evolving more than ever before. They have complex needs and they need agency partners that can bring a modern and fully integrated solution to bear,” he said.

“Some of the biggest challenges (biopharma clients) are wrestling with is how do they prove the value of their medicines, how do they put patients and outcomes at the center of their business, and how do they deliver better experiences and better value across all of their customers, including professionals,” Hudnall added. “… We think we’ve created a foundation that will allow us to innovate with them as we go forward.”

The integration process is already underway and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

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The changes only apply to the U.S. market. Claire Gillis, currently CEO of WPP Health & Wellness International, will continue to lead WPP’s global specialty healthcare businesses, which will remain unchanged.

John Seifert, worldwide chief executive of the Ogilvy Group, was among those executives extending a warm welcome to the health agencies.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome back Ogilvy CommonHealth to The Ogilvy Group and look forward to working in close partnership to integrate the team with our existing health and wellness practice,” he said in a statement.