Publicis integrates Philly-based Digitas Health and Razorfish Health into New York-based Healthcare group

Tom Paine

Last week the huge French ad agency, Publicis, announced it was integrating its two Philly-based digital healthcare agencies, Digitas Health and Razorfish Health, into its New York-based Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG). This is another step in an evolving strategy as Publicis aligns its many healthcare marketing assets. Publicis' announcement says the two agencies will "operate as stand-alone brands within PHCG". Though reporting to New York, both units will remain headquartered in Philadelphia. With Digitas Health CEO and co-founder David Kramer having just announced his retirement the week before, Michael du Toit and Alexandra von Plato, who serve as co-Presidents of both agencies, will report to PHCG President and Chief Executive Officer Nick Colucci. PHCG has other units based in Yardley, including Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Innovations, Publicis Healthware International, and Publicis Touchpoint Solutions.

Not included in PHCG is any part of Hamilton, NJ-based Rosetta Marketing, which has a substantial digital healthcare marketing business, in both the OTC and ethical categories. Rosetta, which Publicis acquired last May for $575 million, is headed by CEO and founder Chris Kuenne, who reports directly to Jean-Yves Naouri, chief operating officer of Publicis Groupe.

Digitas Health grew out of Medical Broadcasting Corporation, founded by Kramer and Linda Holliday in Philadelphia in 1990. Originally concentrating on video production (thus the name) before turning to interactive media, it was acquired by Boston-based Digitas in 2006 for about $30 million; Publicis in turn announced it would acquire Digitas at the end of 2006 for $1.3 billion. Digitas Health has grown rapidly, with revenue reported as being well over $100 million, though in July it laid off 57 staff out of its total workforce of about 624 employees. Digitas Health and Razorfish Health took a first step towards integration in June, when du Toit and von Plato were appointed to their current positions, reporting to Kramer.

The much smaller Razorfish Health was split off last year from Razorfish, which Publicis acquired from Microsoft for $530 million in 2009.

While there are several other sizeable or important digital healthcare agencies either based or with offices in the area (see my post from earlier this year), none of the others have that kind of scale.


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