IPG combines McCann and FCB operations as agencies pile into healthcare

Healthcare used to be one of those things that agencies did – but no-one wanted to talk about it much (although the money was reportedly good) or work on it.

But, as the world tiptoes out of the pandemic, healthcare has become the new black – and not just for agencies. The airwaves are awash with professor this and doctor that pontificating about Covid and, quite often, teling us all how we should live our loves. A flu lockdown this winter anyone?

Healthcare can land you in the dock too of course. Medical marketing van be a pretty grimy business as Publicis is finding out in the US with its unfortunate foray into the opioid field.

But where there’s money there’s an agency realignment or two and Interpublic is merging its McCann and FCB health operation as IPG Health under CEO Dana Maiman.

Maiman (above) says: “Our agencies are coming together from a position of strength. This alignment brings together the unique and complementary capabilities of each network – a unified IPG Health sits at the nexus of creativity, digital channels, technology and data. Along with our leaders and our great people, I will continue to work with clients to help them address the complexity of today’s market and deliver on their goals.

“Our culture is one that’s relentlessly focused on doing what’s right – for our people, our clients, their brands, and the public. With innovative and creative communications across a broad spectrum, IPG Health makes science approachable, understandable and actionable. Our integrated approach to a broad range of communications capabilities ensures we can help clients improve outcomes and quality of life for healthcare audiences around the world.”

No pressure there then.

WPP has also been rejigging healthcare, retiring its venerable Sudler & Hennessey name and moving much of it into VMLY&Rx (that’s a small ‘x’.) The agency has just promoted Nichole Davis to strategy chief.

What’s in a name? One gets IPG Health (there is a WPP Health out there somewhere, described as a ‘practice’ – very medical) but VMLY&Rx? VML is apparently doing the best out of WPP’s recently merged agency line-up but, come on guys, you’re supposed to be branding experts.

Anyway, we’ll see how the increased emphasis on healthcare goes for the big holding companies. But they should beware: medicine can be a minefield and, when it goes wrong, a very expensive one.

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About Stephen Foster

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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.