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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Omnicom Health launches DDB Health

Written by: | | Dated: Wednesday, August 17th, 2016



At the end of June, Omnicom Health Group announced the launch of DDB Health. The new organization combines the former AgencyRx, Flashpoint Medica, Synergy, and DDB Health Germany and DDB Health Paris into a single organization.

For former Flashpoint Medica President Charlene Prounis, the timing of Omnicom’s approach was right.

“My decision to sell was both personal – as it came at the right time in my life, when I had been thinking about taking a step back – and unexpected,” she said in a note to supporters and friends. “But, as I’ve always said, when opportunity knocks, you have to open the door. From a professional perspective, I also wanted to make sure that the nearly 100 people who work for me will be in good hands and have plenty of opportunity for growth and development in their own careers. With Omnicom, I know this will be the case.”

Josh Prince was named CEO and Jennie Fischette was named president of DDB Health in the United States. Andrew Humphreys, director of content for Med Ad News and PharmaLive, took the opportunity while catching up with them after Cannes Lions Health to find out a bit more about the new agency.

Med Ad News: What led to the formation of DDB Health?

Jennie Fischette: I think from an Omnicom Health Group perspective, they saw a need in the marketplace to take a couple of their agencies and put them together into an individualized network and that was kind of the birth of DDB Health in partnership with DDB, obviously a consumer force in its own right. And the ability to transcend healthcare from both a professional standpoint, which DDB Health will be 100 percent focused on, and also be able to partner from a consumer standpoint to be able to bring all worlds together.

Josh Prince: One thing I talked a lot about at Cannes is this sort of healthification of everything that everybody is getting into healthcare and trying to find a healthcare angle for even brands that seem non-healthcare. And I think what that really does is ups the need to be as thoughtful and creative for health brands as ever. So I think this idea of a new network that has great folks and as Jennie points out, dedicated healthcare folks that are coming from in this case Flashpoint and AgencyRx, but under the DDB banner inspired by this idea of using creativity as a force for good health and having the direct line in partnership with DDB – we already have a great relationship with Chuck Brymer, their CEO, and with Chris Brown, who is the president of DDB in New York – at which we look forward to partnering with to kick up the creative thinking and game for what we deliver to clients and as Jennie says, to do DTC partnerships with them.

Med Ad News: What happens to the Flashpoint and AgencyRx operations under the new structure?

Jennie Fischette: The heritage of Flashpoint and AgencyRx and their DNA that was spun will most certainly be a part of our value set as we move forward, but both of those names as of today will no longer exist and they have become DDB Health.

Josh Prince: To help frame what DDB Health looks like, in the U.S. it’s Flashpoint and AgencyRx combined into a single new U.S. agency called DDB Health with offices headquartered in New York and with an office in San Francisco. What also changed is several healthcare-focused companies that have lived with DDB in its big consumer network but were really health-centric companies, they have moved over and become part of the DDB Health network. They include DDB Health in Paris, a great office and agency in Germany called DDB Health Germany in Munich, as well as Synergy, which is a promotional medical education company that has an office in London and outside of Philadelphia. All rolled up, all of those are going to be the parts that make up the network of DDB Health.

Med Ad News: Please discuss the Talent Has No Gender Mission.

Josh Prince: DDB launched what I think is a great campaign and a great cause in the advertising community called Talent Has No Gender. The author of that campaign is a DDB creative director by the name of Janet Guillet. I worked and collaborated with her years ago on client business and client healthcare business back when I was in a different role at CDM. So I was thrilled to see Janet spearhead this for DDB Worldwide. When you look at the complexion of our leadership group, which is a great balanced mix of women and men, I think that is an important thing to be mindful of.

It’s probably not so much in healthcare as it is in general consumer, but I think general consumer advertising has less women in leadership roles and I think their contributions for agencies are immeasurable so I feel blessed and super lucky to have brought Jennie back to lead DDB Health in the United States and to help us set how we work and what we expect of each other and the kind of opportunities we can create for people, and that includes women as well as other groups and I think it is reflected right now in our leadership team makeup.

Jennie Fischette: I am an active member of HBA and it’s about identifying women and the way in which they take leadership roles and ask for leadership roles. It is certainly not kind of the differentiation between men and women, but it is about how we act and how we recognize individuals and it’s an initiative I am quite proud of and quite proud that this agency will be a part of that.

Med Ad News: Jennie, please discuss what this appointment means to you and what you are looking forward to in leading this new group.

Jennie Fischette: For me, the opportunity to be able to bring people together who have a heritage and DNA and allow them to flourish in an environment where they are able to set the tone and positioning and values underneath the DDB Health mission as it relates to the overall network was one that is enticing. There are very few times in your career where you get to forge a new path if you will, the opportunity to truly look at things differently and to be able to mentor and lead individuals so that they can look at things differently.

I think my career has been built off of building things. When I had originally started at AgencyRx, we were one of 30 people, similarly to when I joined Concentric. Now here will be over 160 people, but that entrepreneurial spirit, the ability to create change, will certainly live from our heritage at Flashpoint, and from the days of AgencyRx when we started off down the hallway at Cline, Davis & Mann. So the ability to come in and to be able to take what is a wonderful DNA and excitement among the individuals who work here and for us to be able to form something different was something I could not resist.  

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