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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Digitas Health LifeBrands 2014

Written by: | | Dated: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

100 Penn Square East, 11th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Telephone: 215-545-4444
Facsimile: 215-545-4440

Finalist Agency Of The Year, Category I

Quick Facts

Account wins 18
Account losses 4
Active business clients 60
Brands by 2013 sales  
Brand agency of record – all channels 75%
Digital media agency of record 15%
Global marketing platforms 10%

Client Roster

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
Athena Health
Bristol-Myers Squibb
EMD Serono

2013 was a year of expanding horizons for Digitas Health LifeBrands. Under the leadership of Michael du Toit and Alexandra von Plato, executives say Digitas Health LifeBrands has become a leading, next generation brand agency working across channels, audiences, and oceans.

The Year’s Accomplishments

Poised for growth, Digitas Health LifeBrands continued to build its global and U.S. senior leadership ranks in 2013. In the United States, Digitas elevated Tim Pantello to managing director/Philadelphia and Graham Mills to managing director/New York. Also in New York, Digitas Health LifeBrands added Scott Tannenbaum as head of account management for that office. To better serve a growing roster of West Coast pharma and biotech and focus on expanding its portfolio to serve Silicon Valley ehealth startups, Digitas Health LifeBrands also opened a San Francisco office with Tanya Shepley at the helm.

In London, June Dawson was named Digitas Health LifeBrands global managing director. Dawson is working with du Toit, von Plato, and PHCG Global Group President Ashley Kuchel to serve global clients and expand the Digitas Health LifeBrands footprint around the world with new offices in India, Japan, and China.

On the creative front, both Jacqueline Nolan in New York and Craig Douglass in Philadelphia were named executive creative directors. Digitas Health LifeBrands also continued to invest in innovation with the appointment of Michael Leis as senior VP of social strategy.

The agency continued to grow and diversify its client roster in 2013 with 18 account wins. Along with several new prescription brand wins, Digitas Health LifeBrands actively pursued and won engagements spanning the medical device, diagnostic, over-the-counter, health, information, technology, and wearables categories.

“A full one-third of our wins in 2013 were integrated consumer/HCP AOR assignments. We continue to focus on helping our clients take advantage of change to drive cross channel and cross audience integration,” du Toit says.

Digitas Health LifeBrands also continued to deepen its thought leadership through prestigious events, speaking engagements and proprietary research.

Now in its fifth year, the Digitas Health LifeBrands London-based ThinkDigital conference featured global experts and innovators in mobile health and mobile marketing.

In New York, Digitas Health LifeBrands hosted m.2013 (MDOT), its second annual invitation-only conference on mobile health innovation, which brought together leaders from gaming, mobile carriers, and health technology. This year, the conference marked the release of Digitas Health LifeBrands’ in-depth mobile research study, “Consumer Mobile Health Impact Assessment: How the Use of Mobile Impacts Disease Treatment and Therapy.” The first large-scale quantitative study of its type, its findings continue to spark both media coverage and marketing strategy in 2014.

Also in 2013, von Plato led the first health-focused Advertising Week panel, “Healthy Brands: Marketing on the Front Lines of Health & Wellness in America,” as well as a sold-out panel at CES examining branding in the digital age.

Again during the year, Digitas Health LifeBrands earned numerous awards across multiple categories, including gold for DTC TV, consumer and professional digital, consumer social and consumer print. In a state-wide survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce, Digitas Health LifeBrands Philadelphia was named among “The Best Places to work in Pennsylvania.”

Structure And Services

Executives say Digitas Health LifeBrands connects health and wellness brands with peoples’ deep desire to make healthy choices and lead healthy lives. With offices in Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, and London, the agency takes its mission from four seminal changes.

These changes are: a radically changed media landscape, where digital no longer is a discrete channel, but influences, informs, and infuses all media; the increasing choice and control exercised by healthcare professionals and consumers alike; the rapidly growing importance of health and wellness as personal motivators, social goods and economic drivers; and the rise of truly global health brands, with a sharper focus on efficiency and speed-to-market that they require, and the changes in organizational structure, processes and culture that they demand for both brands and their agencies.

“Every healthcare company is focused on becoming more customer-centric,” von Plato says. “The key for our clients is to shift the focus of marketing from creating product-centric advertising to people-centric experiences that can generate measurable value for customers and brands.”

BrandFit is the agency’s framework for aligning a brand’s customer reality – how its customers seek, understand, and solve healthcare issues – with its business reality – the key business drivers that define, measure, and ensure success – with the goal of building brands that fit optimally into customers’ lives now.

Future Plans

In 2014, Digitas Health LifeBrands will continue building out its global network, with new offices in the European Union and Asia Pacific, and its suite of offerings, with the aim of driving deeper integration across audiences, channels, and geography, and delivering greater value to its clients.


Digitas Health LifeBrands continued its commitment to its host cities with community service days. It closed its New York and Philadelphia offices to allow more than 400 employee volunteers to devote a full day to refurbish a high-need, inner-city public school in each locality.

The agency also supports individual volunteer activities championed by its employees and donates space and publicity to a wide range of charities, including MANNA, AIDS Law Project, EducationWorks, Greater Philadelphia Cares, DesignPhiladelphia, Henry Street Settlement, and Red Hook Revival.

The agency’s fourth annual Facebook initiative Group, HUG, enlisted the help of more than 1,000 employees, clients, and friends of Digitas Health LifeBrands to nominate and choose charities to receive a holiday cash donation.


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