W2O plucks a rival’s digital chief, two other tech vets

Jo Ann Saitta, Larry Mickelberg (pictured) and Marcos Mendell are joining the healthcare specialist network.

New W2O hire Larry Mickelberg.
New W2O hire Larry Mickelberg.

In the high-stakes game of healthcare marketing talent, W2O just upped the ante, plucking one C-level digital lead from a network rival and adding two other senior tech hires.

The new arrivals include Omnicom Health Group's former chief digital officer, Jo Ann Saitta. She will be W2O's global chief digital officer and will lead development of its omnichannel performance marketing capabilities. She will report to Kevin Johnson, who runs the agency's media and data division.

Also joining team W2O are Larry Mickelberg, newly installed as group president, technology and engagement, and Marcos Mendell, who takes on the role of EVP of health platform innovation. The agency announced all three hires on Friday morning.

W2O founder and CEO Jim Weiss said the three hires bring connections within the agency's target customer set. They also add expertise in applying data and technology to other parts of the health services continuum, which gels with his vision for the agency.

“I want this to be the go-to place for anyone who wants to solve healthcare problems technologically and through data and analytics,” Weiss said. 

Weiss is betting that more biopharma and med-tech clients will be open to calling on the agency to help them advance digitally, especially after the pandemic accelerated the need for transformation on the data and technology fronts. 

Mickelberg and Mendell departed their last full-time roles last year. Mickelberg arrives from Deloitte Digital, where he was U.S. practice lead for advertising and experience for life science clients. Prior to that, he was global partner and chief digital officer at Havas Health. He’s charged with forging new approaches to digitizing the commercial vision and strategy for W2O’s creative business, 21Grams. He will report to that agency’s group president, Bob Blink. 

When Mendell left Syneos Health in June, he held the title of global lead for commercial and omnichannel solutions. Before that, he spent 11 years at Pfizer. In his new role, Mendell will be charged with creating digital capabilities and solutions through custom, ad-tech and mar-tech platforms. 

The mini hiring spree comes on the heels of W2O’s acquisition this month of Swoop and IPM.ai, both pioneers in using machine learning, AI and real-world data to solve healthcare challenges. Saitta, Mickelberg and Mendell add intellectual and creative heft to the agency’s newly formed health technology business, which combines capabilities from Swoop and IPM.ai with heath analytics platform Symplur, a 2020 acquisition.

W2O swapped private-equity partners last May, trading previous investor Mountaingate Capital for New Mountain Capital. That spurred the acquisitions streak that included 21Grams and Symplur, along with a trio of med-comms shops. 

MM+M's revenue grew by 25% to $222 million in 2019, according to PRWeek's Agency Business Report 2020Last year, Weiss promised that more acquisitions would be forthcoming.

Among other accolades, Saitta was named to MM+M’s inaugural Hall of Femme class in 2016. Mickelberg was anointed one of MM+M’s Healthcare Influencers in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

This story first appeared on mmm-online.com. 

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