Porter Novelli bulks up health and wellness leadership

The Omnicom Group firm has made staff changes to the health practice in the U.S., U.K., Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, and Mexico.

Paul George
Paul George

NEW YORK: Porter Novelli has brought on eight staffers in leadership positions in its health and wellness practice, including Maura Bergen as EVP for U.S. pharmaceuticals, based in New York.

The firm also hired Brian Thompson as SVP in New York and Shelly Spöeth as SVP and practice lead for health and social impact in the Atlanta office.

Bergen will oversee work for pharma clients in the U.S., working with Porter’s team on strategic planning, creative, analytics, and research. She started in the position earlier this month, reporting to Paul George, global head of the agency’s health and wellness practice.

"Porter already had a very diverse healthcare practice," Bergen said. "I'm going to look at pharma, biotech, and biopharma and expanding that area specifically."

Bergen joined Porter from an EVP position at Cohn & Wolfe. She has also spent time at Twist Marketing, Ketchum, and had a prior stint at Porter as a VP in 2003. Bergen has also worked in-house at Novartis as director of PR.

The agency has expanded the practice globally, with staff changes in the U.S., U.K., Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, and Mexico in recent months. Globally, the firm has added Verónica Gonzalez as head of the health and wellness team in Mexico City; Daniëlle Friskes as lead of the Netherlands health and wellness practice; Olalla Loureiro as account director in the Madrid office; and Rachael Crowell in the Canada office as VP. The agency also created a new role for Lisa O’Sullivan in London as director of the European region’s health and wellness client service.

The agency has worked with Pfizer Canada and International Pharmaceutical Federation. The health and wellness practice has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dutch health insurer Achmea, ViiV Healthcare, and the Jon Theurer Cancer Center in New York.

Health and wellness was one of the strongest growth sectors for the agency in 2015, Omnicom Public Relations Group CEO Karen van Bergen said earlier this year.

George added he was "positive and optimistic" the practice’s growth over the past 18 months will continue.

"Because we have such a diverse healthcare client roster, from public health to venture capital funds to pharma to biotech, we do pride ourselves in being able to support the patients at every single point of the patient journey," George said.

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