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Publicis Health

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Publicis Health - formerly the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group or PHCG - is the industry's largest integrated healthcare communications group. First created in 2003 following completion of the merger of Publicis and Bcom3, it brought together most of those two groups' respective healthcare agencies under a single umbrella. Since then, the group's numerous operating units, which included such well-known names as Nelson Communications, Medicus Group, Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare, Williams Labadie and Klemtner, have steadily been restructured to create a single operating structure and senior management team. Digital units Digitas Health and Razorfish Health joined the group in 2011, and PHCG also maintains close links with other Publicis-owned agencies.

Clients

Click here for a Publicis Healthcare client listing from Adbrands Account Assignments

Competitors

See Healthcare Marketing Agencies index for other companies

Brands & Activities

The combined healthcare marketing resources of Omnicom, WPP and Interpublic are larger by billings, but Publicis Health is the biggest single unit in the medical communications industry, having successfully integrated around 100 separate units into a central reporting structure. In fact it is that same process which the group has now begun to apply in 2016 to its creative and media agencies with the creation of Publicis Communications and Publicis Media. Publicis Health combines all of the many mainstream and specialist healthcare marketing agencies now collectively owned or controlled by the Publicis Groupe. The group offers a complete range of services ranging from advertising to medical education, clinical recruiting, contract sales and more. Its global footprint stretches across 70 offices in ten countries, although the lion's share of its business is generated in the US. Advertising Age estimated global revenues of $807m in 2015, more than twice its nearest rival, including $703m in the US.

Several separate brands still remain within the wider group in order to resolve client conflicts. These are aligned as two main business groups. Publicis LifeBrands is now the largest unit within the overall group, formed from the merger of what were previously two separate units. Medicus NY was originally a healthcare public relations agency, and was the first professional unit to begin marketing P&G's Crest toothpaste to medical professionals during the 1970s. It substantially extended its range of services during the 1990s, eventually concentrating primarily on medical advertising. It represents a sizeable portfolio of non-prescription brands for professional medical advertising, including several P&G products and even Dyson vacuum cleaners. LifeBrands was spun out of Medicus in 2002 to handle more specialised categories such as oncology and neurology, and two years later absorbed what was left of another Publicis-owned unit, Nelson Communications. The latter, once a multi-discipline healthcare giant with numerous separate units, was gradually broken up after it was acquired by Publicis in 2000. Following several years in which they co-existed under the Publicis Healthcare umbrella, Medicus and LifeBrands were merged once again in summer 2008 under Medicus managing director Lisa Ebert. Another satellite unit, Brand Pharm, established in 2005 from the ashes of the former Nelson Communications, was absorbed into Medicus LifeBrands in 2009. The Medicus name is gradually being phased out during 2012, although for now it is still used in the US, as Publicis LifeBrands Medicus. Several other global units also have expanded names, such as Publicis Lifebrands Resolute in the UK. Advertising Age estimated US revenues of $50m in 2014. There are also close links with mainstream agency Publicis New York which also manages a number of healthcare accounts as part of its general market brief.

In 2011, the healthcare units of Publicis-owned Digitas and Razorfish were also transferred into PHCG. Digitas Health has become the lead digital resource within PHCG, now with its own small global network. It adopted the Lifebrands tag in 2015 to become Digitas Health LifeBrands. Ad Age estimated US revenues of $120m in 2014. In 2013 the group acquired Heartbeat Ideas, a digital healthcare agency with offices in New York and Santa Monica. Publicis LifeBrands, Digitas Health Lifebrands and Heartbeat Ideas now form one of the umbrella group's two creative divisions.

The other is led by Saatchi & Saatchi Health, which combines what were previously three separate full-service advertising agencies. Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare advertising is the name of what was previously Klemtner advertising, one of the industry's longest-established medical advertising agencies. It is accompanied by what is now Discovery (previously Saatchi & Saatchi Science), based in Pennsylvania. That unit also absorbed Williams-Labadie, previously a standalone integrated healthcare agency. Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness is a DTC unit based at the main Saatchi & Saatchi agency in New York. It is partnered by what is now Razorfish Health, which absorbed separate digital unit Publicis Healthware in 2013, followed two years later by the healthcare-focused operations of standalone agency Rosetta.

The group established its own dedicated healthcare media planning and buying unit in January 2014 by merging various inhouse units under the banner of Publicis Health Media. There is also a specialised branding and strategy business operating as InSync. A group of separate highly specialised field sales and promotional units have now been merged under the name of Publicis Touchpoint Solutions, while Publicis Medical Education Group brings together the group's various units involved in that specialist area, such as Maxcess.

The group's international coverage is managed by a separate unit, Publicis Healthcare Global Networks, which inherited some 42 offices spanning 15 countries in 2003, and has been refining this into a more concentrated business structure, mostly under the Publicis LifeBrands, Saatchi & Saatchi Health or Discovery brands. In 2006, the group acquired leading French healthcare marketing group BOZ

Background

Paul Klemtner was one of the original pioneers in healthcare marketing. An accountant by training, in the late 1920s he took a part-time job at pharmaceutical company GD Searle (later part of Pharmacia) to pay for his business school fees. After graduating he became Searle's financial controller, but left in 1934 to set up Paul Klemtner & Company, offering accounting services and financial consulting to the medical industry. In the early 1940s American pharmacies began to shift away from traditional purchases of compounds which they could make up in-store towards the fast-expanding range of off-the-shelf branded pharmaceuticals. Klemtner increasingly found himself advising drug companies on how to manage this new sales environment. Salesforce training gradually evolved into advertising, and in 1944, Klemtner advertising was formed to handle this side of the business. After a slow start, medical advertising really began to come into its own in the 1950s, following the launch of an aggressive marketing campaign by Pfizer to launch their new drug Terramycin. However, Klemtner was determined to retire at the age of 60, and he sold the business to his senior managers in 1965. (He retired to Florida, where he died in 1997).

The industry grew quickly over the next two decades, and by the late 1970s Klemtner's billings were over $20m. In 1979, the agency was acquired by mainstream US advertising agency Compton, which was in turn acquired by the fast-expanding Saatchi & Saatchi empire in 1982. Klemtner gradually extended its range, and Healthcare Resources Group was formed in 1997 to serve as the umbrella for five of Saatchi's specialist medical shops.

Following the acquisition of Saatchi by Publicis, Klemtner Healthcare Resources Group was in turn merged into the much larger Nelson Communications, acquired by the French group a year earlier. Nelson had been founded in 1987 by Wayne Nelson, previously the chairman & CEO of Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products. After leaving J&J, he set up a group of small healthcare consulting and diagnostic companies before taking the plunge into marketing in 1989, acquiring a number of agencies in the US including Ogilvy & Mather subsidiary Rolf Werner Rosenthal. By the end of the 1990s, the group had a substantial US business, but only very limited exposure to the international market. Nelson announced in 1999 that it would issue an IPO the following year, but subsequently withdrew the offer as a result of the volatility of the markets. Instead the company was snapped up by fast-expanding Publicis for a price-tag rumoured to be around $200m.

Following completion of that deal, Publicis rolled its existing healthcare businesses, then known as Publicis Wellcare, into Nelson. Klemtner Healthcare Resources Group was added in 2001, followed by Medicus Group in 2003. The latter was established in 1972 by Larry Lesser and was one of the first US healthcare advertising agencies to establish itself outside its home country. It was acquired by Benton & Bowles in 1978, and two years later merged with Intercon International to create Medicus Intercon. Over the following years, the business was carried first into DMB&B, and subsequently MacManus, Bcom3, and ultimately into Publicis. The creation of Publicis Healthcare Group led to a consolidation of the global network of the various constituent parts, with several international offices closed, and others merged.

The retirement of several senior managers at Nelson, Medicus and Saatchi Healthcare in 2003 and 2004 led to the complete overhaul of the group's decentralized structure, in favour of a single reporting line.

Last full revision 18th May 2016

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