4As acquires the Coalition for Healthcare Communication

The deal adds healthcare muscle to the 4As’ advocacy machine.

L-R: CHC board chair and EVP, director of business development at AbelsonTaylor Jay Carter and 4As EVP Alison Pepper.

In a deal that marries two of the industry’s most effective and influential trade associations, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) has acquired the Coalition for Healthcare Communication.

The CHC acquisition further diversifies the 4As’ knowledge and advocacy base within the realms of health and wellness. For the CHC, the deal expands access to the 4As’ wealth of organizational and infrastructural resources.

“Healthcare advocacy is such an important issue, not just for 4As members but also for the entire marketplace,” said Alison Pepper, 4As EVP of government relations and sustainability. “We haven’t really had the resources we needed and the pieces of the puzzle in place. So when the coalition came to us earlier this year to talk about joining forces, it was really exciting.”

Jay Carter, CHC board chair and EVP and director of business development at AbelsonTaylor, similarly touted the “natural fit.”

“The 4As is an organization that effectively has a machine designed for advocacy for education and publishing, which we lacked,” he said. “What we do have is a strong grassroots presence and strong insights, and a group of committed members who are looking for a way to help out in the advocacy.”

The deal comes at a time when healthcare-adjacent concerns loom large over the broader marketing ecosystem. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to end the constitutional right to abortion has created a confusing operating environment for marketers and communicators alike. And that’s before one takes into account any number of other issues around commercial speech, data privacy and taxation. The CHC has long pushed back against the oft-floated idea that Congress should limit or eliminate the tax-deductibility of pharma marketing expenses.

“There’s lots of talk in DC about healthcare communications right now. There are lots of conversations on the hill about what companies can say,” Pepper noted.

The acquisition was also prompted in part by the imminent retirement of well-regarded CHC executive director Jon Bigelow, who is leaving the organization at the end of the month after more than four years leading it.

“When [Jon] decided he wanted to retire, naturally the CHC looked for a new home — not necessarily a 180-degree change, but a new home that could leverage some of the good groundwork CHC has done,” Pepper said. “The 4As has had a working relationship with the CHC for years. It was a natural fit.”

Pepper will direct the search for Bigelow’s replacement, effectively immediately. The CHC will sit within the 4As’ government relations and sustainability practice, which Pepper heads up.

This story first appeared on MM+M.


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