The agency has hired Mike Guarini, a founder of boutique healthcare stalwart Gramercy Group, New York, to lead the division as managing director.
"The timing is right," said Tro Piliguian, president of O&M North America. "The pharmaceutical business is exploding, pharmaceutical companies have discovered the power of branding . . . and regulations are loosening enough to make meaningful advertising."
Mr. Piliguian has his own insider knowledge of healthcare agencies; his first foray into advertising was a pharmaceutical shop he founded in Montreal, now called Academie-Ogilvy Communications.
The new unit will serve O&M's existing healthcare clients such as Merck & Co. and Novartis, and is already involved in other new-business pitches. Billings for OgilvyHealthcare were undisclosed.
A 'BIG GAP'
Mr. Guarini said he was drawn to O&M by Mr. Piliguian's experience, as well as the agency's creativity and global network.
"I saw the business really changing as the industry got more involved, particularly with [direct-to-consumer advertising] and the way in which it's communicated," he said. "I saw a big gap that could be filled by general agencies and direct agencies that have the pulse of the consumer."
Claudine Singer will serve as an account director for OgilvyHealthcare. That's in addition to her duties at O&M's direct and interactive unit, OgilvyOne. Natasha Kavanagh, director of client services, who was already working with O&M healthcare clients, also moves to the new unit.
A focus for OgilvyHealthcare will be to tap into its parent agency's creative heritage. Both Messrs. Piliguian and Guarini discount the notion that pharmaceutical advertising is too heavily regulated to be creative.
"People blame it on regulations and it is regulated to some extent, but I don't think that's something we can blame it on," Mr. Guarini said. "Targeting the right consumers and motivating them -- although some regulations have to be included -- should be the major factor."
Mr. Piliguian said the lack of creativity has been partly because pharmaceutical companies weren't as interested in branding as they are now, and pharmaceutical ad agencies can get too absorbed in technical medical information.
The new O&M unit also will tout its global network including the recently announced OgilvyHealthcare Network in Europe, which has 35 offices in 28