Realizing the growing importance of healthcare communications, Lintas India has restructured its IMAG (Integrated Marketing Action Group) division to give healthcare as an added service to its clients.
Mr Ashish Bhasin, Director, IMAG, said, "There has been a change in focus regarding healthcare communications, and post-2005, when there will be no patent regime, is when we expect healthcare to gain more importance. The separate unit of Lowe Healthcare will now move under the IMAG division in Lintas India."
Lowe Healthcare had hitherto been a separate unit in Lintas India. Now, it will be integrated under the IMAG division, the specialist unit for all below-the-line communication in Lintas. "To begin with, we have hired doctors and medical specialists and will focus more on OTC advertising," said Mr Bhasin.
It has already bagged clients such as local hospitals in Mumbai, Breach Candy and Bhatia Hospital. Besides, there would also be OTC advertising for brands from companies such as Biocon Ltd and Dumex India. In the past, it had concluded a nurses training programme for Wockhart Hospital as well.
"Hospitals have communication needs and this would include designing their brochures and supplements. There would be regular branding needs for such players," added Mr Bhasin.
In fact, most of the pharma-based assignments have been on a project basis for ad agencies, but with the impending competition in the pharma industry, regular ad spends and branding exercises are likely to take place once the patent regime is over.
"Healthcare communications is at a nascent stage. But with consumers getting more demanding, there is going to be a need to build quality and provide high-end care to patients. There has to be consistent branding and it cannot be need-based anymore," observed Mr Bhasin. IMAG is expected to sign on a major MNC client owning a host of OTC brands. In fact, according to Mr Bhasin, this is going to be one of the biggest accounts for the IMAG division and apart from healthcare, will be worked up by its other wings, such as Linterland and Dcell, as well.
"We are basically gearing up for the big explosion which is expected to happen post-2005. Healthcare services are expected to become more professional and will not get treated as an emergency service," added Mr Bhasin.