WPP to merge Ogilvy CommonHealth, ghg, Sudler, and CMI into new company

Mike Hudnall will serve as CEO of WPP Health & Wellness, the newly formed agency.

NEW YORK: WPP plans to house Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, ghg, and Sudler & Hennessey — three of the top 10 healthcare agencies by revenue — along with media-planning giant CMI, under a single brand, called WPP Health & Wellness, the holding company told MM&M.

"It's the first time we've ever used the WPP brand on a parent company," WPP CEO Martin Sorrell told attendees at an investor meeting in December.

Combined, the four agencies generated an estimated $415.5 million in North American revenue in 2015, according to MM&M figures. The CEOs of these agencies will report to Mike Hudnall, the newly appointed CEO of the company, a WPP spokesperson said.

Hudnall cofounded Huntsworth Health's Evoke Health and is a former CEO of Team Pfizer, a global network of WPP creative agencies dedicated to servicing the drugmaker.

Ogilvy last week confirmed to Campaign that it planned to shed its sub-brands, like Ogilvy & Mather, Ogilvy One, and Ogilvy Public Relations. However, the WPP spokesperson said in an email that all of the WPP healthcare agencies will retain their brands.

"We believe keeping the agency brands and cultures alive and vibrant is critical for our clients and our people," she said.

Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide chairman and CEO John Seifert said this week in a statement that Matt Giegerich will retire as chairman and CEO of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, effective in the second quarter of this year, and Ogilvy managing partners Darlene Dobry, Michael Parisi, Shaun Urban, and Marc Weiner are expected to take on his executive and managerial duties. WPP said it plans to name a successor. Ogilvy CommonHealth leadership, while reporting to Hudnall, will retain matrix responsibilities to Ogilvy, leaders there said. 

The healthcare agencies at WPP are currently housed under the Branding & Identity, Healthcare and Specialist Communications group, which made up 27% of WPP's 2015 revenue.

Wunderman Health, a WPP healthcare shop that reported an estimated $120 million in revenue in 2015, will continue to have a direct reporting line to parent company Wunderman and will also collaborate closely with WPP Health & Wellness, according to Wunderman Health CEO Becky Chidester.

The reorganization of the healthcare agencies underscores ongoing changes in the marketing sector as agencies, grappling with healthcare market dynamics, see integration as the solution. Omnicom Group last year made a similar move, reorganizing 15 healthcare shops under the Omnicom Health Group brand and later merging and rebranding LLNS and Corbett as TBWA\WorldHealth.

"At WPP, we've classically defined healthcare as a discrete vertical, but our client needs span all of the disciplines and all of the areas in which WPP has capability," Hudnall told investors at the investor day in December.  

During the same presentation, he noted the rise of non-traditional players like Apple and Samsung seeking to create health businesses at a time when big data and a more engaged consumer base have become top-of-mind issues for healthcare stakeholders like drugmakers, hospitals, and health IT firms.

This includes "clients that are redefining their industries from the lens of health or pushing the boundaries of what healthcare and technology can do," Hudnall added.

On the flip side, some traditional healthcare companies are changing the way they market their products, to better communicate to consumers at a time when health and wellness has become more popular. Philips Healthcare, working with Ogilvy & Mather, won the pharma Grand Prix in Cannes last year for its Breathless Choir campaign, a highly emotional and cinematic video campaign that rarely mentioned the breathing machines marketed by the medical device maker.

Spokespeople at CMI and Sudler & Hennessey referred requests for comment to WPP.

This story first appeared on MM&M.

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