WPP challenges Publicis with new Ogilvy CommonHealth healthcare giant

WPP is to combine its Ogilvy Healthworld and the hitherto separate CommonHealth network into Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide which it claims will be the world’s third largest healthcare agency after Publicis Healthcare Communications and independent InVentiv Health Communications.

The business will be bossed by CommonHealth’s Matt Giegerich who describes it as “the biggest, baddest cat in the land” which seems a funny thing to say about a healthcare business.

Health communications are one of the most profitable parts of the marketing communications spectrum. The industry as a whole enjoys the kind of margins others envy and pharma companies seem relatively relaxed about client conflict.

On the face of it the latter seems odd but once a drug has been patented it is more or less guaranteed a healthy income stream for years so there’s not much competitors can do about it.

This happy state of affairs (for the pharma companies) may not survive US president Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms as the government may insist on more competitive pricing.

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell is no doubt hoping to take his war with Publicis and Maurice Levy into a new dimension with this new rival to Publicis Groupe’s global leader.

It’s like the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon all over again (apart from the physical dimensions of course).

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.