McKinney is jumping into an agency sector that outperformed the overall agency business in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to grow. Health care revenue for U.S. agencies rose 11.2% in 2021, just below the standout 11.7% growth that came in 2020 when demand surged for marketing services tied to the coronavirus, according to Ad Age Agency Report 2022. Other agencies that have added health practices in recent years include Connelly Partners, Hill Holiday, and Initiative.
McKinney’s plan to establish a health and wellness practice dates back to the end of 2018, before the pandemic, McKinney CEO Joe Maglio said in an interview. When Maglio became the CEO of McKinney in October of that year, “figuring out our way into the health and wellness space” was already on his list of priorities.
“The pandemic ironically stopped us at first,” Maglio recalled, “because we were just trying to make sure that the company was going forward. But once we stabilized, the pandemic helped us move forward faster.”
Read more: 4 health and wellness marketing trends to watch
Non-health- related businesses have become increasingly interested in catering to consumers’ health-related expectations. Adding an incremental focus on health, Maglio said, will benefit McKinney’s clients, even for those whose products appear “only on a supermarket shelf.”
McKinney appointed Michael McNamara, former president of Havas Life New York, as managing director of McKinney Health. McNamara has 23 years of healthcare marketing experience, serving clients ranging from Bluetooth-enabled asthma inhalers to household wellness brands including ALL Free & Clear detergent. McNamara also worked on the launch of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine while at Havas, which involved an educational campaign.
“Michael and I have known each other from years ago at Havas,” said Maglio, who served as the managing director at Havas New York. “We’ve always talked about combining my experience on the consumer, creative side with his experience in the healthcare space.”
“We’re talking to clients all the time, in wellness, health, and life sciences,” McNamara said. “They all say they don’t want a traditional health agency. They want the people who’re doing Super Bowl commercials. They all say ‘I need the most creative and innovative agency.'”