TOP 50: HEALTHCARE: An emphasis on premarketing sees MAC profits rise. Shire Hall wins Zeneca and Glaxo work

1 Medical Action Communications

1 Medical Action Communications

pounds 6,530,000

Following the merger with US-based contract pharmaceutical organisation

(CPO) Quintiles Transnational Corporation last June, MAC stormed ahead,

taking fee income from just over pounds 5 million to more than pounds

6.5 million.

’Being part of Quintiles has worked. The CPO concept is one that suits

MAC because we’re very involved in pre-marketing and preparing the

marketplace through things like opinion leader development,’ says MAC

CEO, Stephen Bullock.

Bullock says the idea of the CPO concept is to provide a complete

out-sourcing service from drug development to marketing and

communications through to commercialisation and salesforce support. One

example of how MAC was able to provide a solution was a disease

management support programme for Ibsen. The agency worked with Quintiles

company Innovex, providing specially recruited nurses with the

communications support they needed to take the programme out into the

marketplace. Another factor in the agency’s growth was the opening of a

US office in September in New Jersey, the heartland of the

pharmaceutical industry. ’This was an extension of what we were already

doing because our business is very international,’ says Bullock.

The office has won important new business from SmithKline Beecham in

diabetes and oncology. MAC continued to grow its core business, the

international pre-marketing of new drugs. The agency helped launch new

client Astra into a new therapy area, the treatment of stroke victims.

Staff numbers increased as the in-house medical scientific team and Live

Action division, which works principally in new media, was


2 Shire Hall Group

pounds 4,167,000

Fee income rose by 20 per cent at Shire Hall as the agency recorded its

twelfth successive year of growth.

A principal contributor to the growth was 4D Communications, the medical

education company, which increased revenue from pounds 450,000 in 1996

to pounds 964,000 in 1997. New clients for the division included Astra

(respiratory portfolio), Bristol-Myers Squibb (cardiovascular

portfolio), Glaxo Wellcome (Valtrex for genital herpes) and Yamanouchi

(Infergen for hepatitis C).

At the end of 1997, Shire Hall International was established to

capitalise on rapid growth in international business. New clients for

the division included Zeneca (Zestril, an ACE inhibitor), Glaxo Wellcome

(pre-marketing) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (market development in oncology

and HIV). The Shire Hall affiliate network was also extended from 16 to

22 countries as agencies were recruited in Spain, France, Denmark,

Switzerland and India.

The core business, Shire Hall Communications (UK), experienced fairly

modest growth of only pounds 41,000 in 1997 to pounds 2,733,000, but did

add several important new clients. For Astra it worked on the

respiratory portfolio and erectile dysfunction product Muse. Abbott

Laboratories asked the agency to work on its benign prostate hyperplasia

product Hytrin, and ConvaTec on its stoma care range. SHC also won

pre-marketing work from Parke-Davis.

Another important step was setting up a dedicated NHS unit. ’This allows

us to gather expertise on healthcare purchasers and policy makers for

our clients,’ explains chief executive, Margot James. Staff levels rose

by eight, with the addition of Caroline Dunstall and Tina Wheatley, who

both joined as account managers.

4 Hill and Knowlton

pounds 2,250,360

’H&K’s Health and Pharmaceutical Division is really a resurgence story’,

says Karen Moyse, head of H&K’s UK health and pharmaceutical


After being in the doldrums two years ago, Dr Martin Godfrey, head of

European healthcare, brought in Moyse to revitalise the UK


Over 18 months, she has completely changed the management team. Last

year, Sarah Rogers, formerly of Fusion, and Mike Kan, previously with

Burson-Marsteller, came aboard at director level. Tessa Hopkins who has

experience with Merck and Glaxo Wellcome, worked as a strategic


Moyse says: ’We have built up a strong blue-chip base of clients that

have stayed with us because of innovative campaigns built on a strong

medical foundation.’

Last June also saw H&K develop formal business links with WPP-owned US

marketing services group CommonHealth. Godfrey says: ’Companies are

increasingly looking at integrated global campaigns, especially when

launching new brands’.

By joining the other WPP-owned members of CommonHealth, covering areas

such as medical education and advertising, the agency plans to expand

its healthcare activities even further this year.

8 Scope Ketchum (including Life PR)

pounds 1,705,150

Managing director of heathcare Paul Blackburn describes 1997 as ’an

astonishing year’ for Scope Ketchum. He says: ’We had a smaller number

of clients, but bigger projects that were well funded and well planned.’

Indeed the figures for Scope Ketchum alone, show a healthcare fee

increase of more than 126 per cent on 1996. Blackburn attributes this

growth to the ’hourglass’ structure within his division. ’Over half the

staff are at account director level or higher, so senior personnel are

very hands-on,’ he says.

Life PR’s healthcare income remained relatively stable at pounds

2,728,293 in 1996 and pounds 2,727,992 in 1997. Associate director Lara

Turner, says this is because the agency’s focus was to build on existing

relations rather than to proactively chase new clients. Retained

accounts included Procter and Gamble brands Clearasil and Crest, and all

Reckitt and Colman’s OTC brands, such as Lemsip. But Turner says a major

feature of 1997 was Life’s involvement in the Proprietary Association of

Great Britain’s review of the Consumer Advertising Code. ’We were

recognised as an agency that constantly breaks new creative boundaries’,

she says.

With no conflict of interests, it remains to be seen how Scope Ketchum

and Life’s different slices of the healthcare sector will sit together

throughout 1998.

9 Lowe Fusion

pounds 1,576,707

The last 12 months have been very eventful for Fusion. Last month the

agency was acquired by the Lowe Group, the 13th largest advertising

network in the world. And in November Fusion moved offices from Chiswick

to Richmond because it was bursting at the seams. ’We couldn’t take on

staff because we needed more space,’ explains chairman Neil Kendle. ’We

were turning away work because we didn’t have the people to do it.’

As a consequence, Kendle admits, growth was modest. Nevertheless, the

agency did win some significant new business and did not lose any


Existing client Bristol-Myers Squibb asked Lowe Fusion to launch its new

anti-hypertensive product Aprovel. Allergan chose the agency to work on

an international basis on AMO Array, an intraocular lens for cataract

surgery, and there was also international work for Novartis on

pre-marketing of a product to treat multi-drug resistance to cancer


There was no change in direction during the year, but Kendle says there

will be now that Fusion is part of the Lowe Group. ’We want to get much

more involved in Europe,’ says Kendle. ’Lowe Healthcare in New York is

looking to build a worldwide network. We’re its first overseas office

and pan-European work will be co-ordinated through us.’

Lowe’s ownership will not have much effect on day-to-day activities,

says Kendle. ’What will be interesting is that in some respects the US

is way ahead of us, particularly in direct customer communications, and

the Lowe Group has got a lot of experience in that. As a country the UK

has got a lot to learn,’ he adds.

10 The Grayling Group

pounds 1,513,073

1997 saw The Grayling Group increase healthcare fee income by almost 16

per cent. Grayling director Peter Holden says this growth came mainly

from additional business for existing clients. Most notably in May the

agency added Zanidip, an anti-hypertensive, to its other prescription

product accounts for Napp Laboratories. Similarly, existing work on

Schering-Plough’s antihistamine product Clarityn, helped win the

pre-marketing and launch of new rhinitis product Nasonex.

Increased work for Pasteur Merieux MSD also proved to be an area of


This included the launch of a new combination diphtheria, tetanus and

whooping cough vaccine. On the down side, in May the Grayling Group

parted company with Warner-Lambert, having handled many of its well

known OTC brands, such as Benylin and Listerine, for ten years. Holden

says: ’It was unfortunate, but we were able to absorb the loss and still

develop new business.’

However, he also reports that 1997 saw an increase in

’cross-fertilisation’ of clients with sister agency Westminster

Strategy. Pharmaceutical companies such as Merck Sharp and Dohme, Roche

and Pasteur Merieux sought both PR and public affairs advice from the


11 Cohn and Wolfe

pounds 1,265,275

Cohn and Wolf international director of healthcare Martin Ellis

described 1997 as ’quite spectacular’. After doubling its healthcare fee

income in 1996, last year the agency achieved a growth rate of 81 per

cent to take it over the pounds 1 million mark and catapult it to 11th

position. Increased staffing levels also reflect this rise in fortune.

Ellis says: ’We went into 1997 with 11 staff and finished the year with

20.’ Notable additions included Angie Searle, who became a board

director and director of healthcare, London.

Ellis says the main reason for his division’s success last year was the

amount of international business it picked up. This included two global

product account wins - Prozac and anti-schizophrenic treatment Zyprexa

for long-standing client Eli Lilly. But what pleases him the most is

that growth in 1997 was organic. He says: ’It is gratifying that we have

won new business off the back of other work for that client, based on

internal recommendations from colleagues.’

For instance, in June the agency won Boehringer Ingelheim’s global

transition to non-CFC propelled inhalers. In December this helped bring

in three OTC products for Boehringer’s Self Medication division.

Similarly, its work on Eli Lilly’s two POM products helped win UK

consumer health awareness campaign ’Fab after Fifty’ for post menopausal

women, later in the year.

15 The Workhouse

pounds 1,032,046

Formed in September 1994 and appearing for the first time in the

Healthcare Top 50, the Workhouse specialises in the ethical

pharmaceutical arena.

Fee income grew from pounds 624,728 in 1996 to over pounds 1 million

last year, based mainly on UK clients. However, Workhouse director,

Joanna Bright says that over 40 per cent of the agency’s current work is


The agency also has an unusual internal structure, with all senior

consultants working on day-to-day business for clients. Bright says:

’Some people might criticise us for having account directors following

up press releases, but senior personnel have more experience and are

taken more seriously’.

While the agency works for a number of charitable bodies and

professional associations, it also works extensively with biotech

companies. Bright says: ’The PR challenges are very different. You have

to advise on getting the balance right between creating interest and

raising the expectations of patients for a therapy that may be up to six

years away.’

19 Harvard PR

pounds 862,800

1997 saw Harvard PR increase its healthcare fee income by a buoyant 33

per cent. ’It was a year where clients really began to realise that the

shift from professional to patient audiences is very real and

permanent,’ says Harvard PR director Gareth Zundel.

A major account win for the agency was Merck’s HRT patch, Femseven, at

the beginning of last summer. Zundel says: ’Merck’s choice was

influenced as much by the strength of our consumer credentials as by our

healthcare experience.’ Despite being a prescription only product, one

of the first things Harvard organised was a Merck-sponsored national

women’s tour to talk directly to potential end-users.

However, Harvard’s biggest win in 1997 was new client, Priory Hospitals

Group, the UK’s largest provider of private psychiatric hospital


Following an in-depth survey commissioned from NOP in December, the

agency kicked off a media relations campaign last month.

Last year also saw a greater synergy between healthcare and Harvard’s

other specialists areas of leisure and hi-tech. In April the agency was

appointed by Healix to handle its computerised health information system

providing news alerts and in-depth analysis for healthcare professionals

from hospital doctors to NHS executives. Zundel says: ’Our audiences

have proven to be much more complementary than they first appear.’

24 Sante Communications

pounds 623,221

Sante is a Covent Garden-based healthcare specialist. Formed in

September 1995 by Liz Shanahan, it specialises in ethical

pharmaceuticals and NHS issues. Since 1996, Sante has enjoyed a

year-on-year fee income growth of just under 50 per cent and in 1997 won

a commendation for Best New Consultancy at the PR Week Awards.

Last year’s increase in business came from both existing clients and new

account wins. Proctor and Gamble Pharmaceuticals’ osteoporosis treatment

Didronel, has been with the agency since set up. But in 1997, Proctor

and Gamble work virtually doubled, with other products coming on board

and campaigns moving increasingly into Europe.

New account wins included Leo Pharmaceutical’s anti-DVT (deep vein

thrombosis) product in January and Cephalon’s narcolepsy treatment,

Provigil, previously held by Hill and Knowlton, in August.

On behalf of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, the agency was also involved with

EMAP’s ’The Question of Health Series’, featuring highbrow debates on

issues affecting the NHS.

20 Countrywide Porter Novelli

pounds 851,952

Countrywide’s healthcare group turned in a storming performance, almost

doubling fee income. According to director of healthcare, Caroline Ashe,

the spectacular growth was due to a mixture of organic growth and new

business wins.

Being part of a full-service agency has definitely helped the


’We’ve been strengthening our offer to healthcare clients by offering a

full breadth of services such as crisis management, media training,

consumer marketing, public health education, and internal comms,’ says


One existing client which bought more services was Bristol-Myers Squibb,

which used CPN for public health education programmes and crisis

management as well as for product marketing. Key wins for the year

included Glaxo Wellcome, for which the agency worked on respiratory

products and handled corporate work. For Novartis, there was new project

and internal communications work. The agency was appointed by Collagen

to handle a pan-European campaign on breast implant and facial injection

products. Another new client was blood products producer Bio Products


International work also doubled, accounting for about 20 per cent of

total fee income. ’Being part of the Porter Novelli network there is a

strong commitment to international work. The UK is still seen as a

country that can match the expertise of the US and handle core resources

for European programmes,’ says Ashe.

37 Myriad PR

pounds 154,773

In April this year, Health Network rebranded and changed its name to

Myriad PR. ’We wanted to reflect the increasing diversity of our clients

from NHS Trusts to charities with a health bias,’ says managing

director, Steve Weaving. He adds: ’We felt Health Network was too

clinically skewed.’

No doubt the PPP Healthcare account win last year helped drive this

change of image. The agency worked throughout the year to roll out the

national launch of the private health insurer’s ’Network’ system, which

establishes a preferred PPP Healthcare hospital in each region.

But developing existing clients was also responsible for Myriad’s 11 per

cent rise in fee income. For instance, the agency took on public

awareness campaigns for the Haemophilia Society and extended a corporate

communications remit for 3M Healthcare to include switching oral hygiene

product, Difflan to OTC.

But, exporting PR skills to new international markets was also a

significant activity. The agency extended its UK work for the Durex

brand to Scandinavia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

However, Weaving says that 1997 also saw big internal changes. ’Last

year was quite difficult as we needed to invest in a strong senior

middle management’, he says. To achieve structural balance, the agency

promoted ’a whole new generation’ to account director, and as a result

increased junior staffing levels by almost 30 per cent.

- In 1997 H&K boosted its healthcare practice by integrating campaigns

with other divisions. For example, joint ventures with the consumer

marketing division led to wins including Boots Healthcare International.

Last year also saw the creation of a Healthcare Netcoms Offer. Internet

and ’ethical’ health teams combined to produce the Roche HIV site which

has had over 1.4 million hits

- A key feature for Scope Ketchum in 1997 was substantial global

business. International account wins included two new Pharmacia and

Upjohn products treating depression and Parkinson’s disease and Astra’s

clinical trials into hypertension

- Wins for Lowe Fusion included Orion’s drug to treat Parkinson’s

disease Comptess, and Lorex Sythelabo’s schizophrenia product Solian

- Last year Grayling took further steps towards becoming a major

international player. In September it forged a healthcare partnership

with New Jersey-based agency MCS. Grayling director Peter Holden says

this was a key factor in winning Amersham Pharmacia Biotech’s global

corporate and product communications account earlier this year

- With the healthcare division accounting for 30 per cent of C&W’s

income in 1997, 1998 looks set to be the year when healthcare becomes

the biggest division within the agency

- Sante Communications acted as a secretariat for the Sir James Paget

Society, which brings together senior health professionals for ’off the

record’ talks about NHS-related issues. In 1997, this covered the

funding of new medicines and talks with public health minister, Tessa

Jowell, about fighting osteoporosis

- Recognising the shift from professional to patient audiences has

played an important role in winning work for Harvard.In July it won work

for Ferring Pharmaceutical’s new fertility drug for women. Harvard PR

director Gareth Zundel is adament that communicating with the consumer

is an important factor when moral issues, such as multiple births, are

at stake.

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