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Ad agencies focus on healthcare with new plans

02-March-2004
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Ad agencies focus on healthcare with new plans

In strategic move, Bates India, part of the WPP Group Plc has forayed into the healthcare communication business by launching its healthcare division called ‘Healthworld’. Meanwhile, Contract Health, the healthcare wing of Contract is on a expansion mode. To add muscle to its manpower, Contract Health is now scouting for competetnet professionals in both creative and client servicing disciplines.

On Bates India’s new initiative, says Mr Mani, executive vice president, Bates India:” In India, we have launched ‘Healthworld’ as a division of Bates India. Elsewhere in the world, Healthworld is a stand-alone healthcare company.As a one-month old division, we are now in talks with many pharma companies in India,” he adds.

As for the rationale behind Bates India’s new move, Mr Mani, explains that the agency opted for the soft launch of ‘Heatlhworld’ as Bates has identified enormous opportunities in the healthcare communication business in India. “The pharmaceutical industry in the country is all set to explode. And from 2005, multinational pharma companies will bring in their international blockbusters-with out worrying about patent infringement,” he says.

As for its offerings, Bates Healthworld offers services such as Continued Medical Education (CME), direct to doctors communications (DDC), direct-to-patient communicaitons among others. In the overcrowded category, what’s going to be Bates India’s USP? Replies Mr Mani:

“We’ll bring in the expertise of the Healthworld worldwide’s to India. This is a huge benfit for us as we have the entire Healthworld network and expertise to tap in anytime.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Contract Health is expanding its manpower to handle the growing list of its pharma clients, informs Mr Soumitra Sen, vice president of Contract Advertising who heads the healthcare wing of Contract.To gain a competitive edge in this sector, Contract is chalking out an aggressive strategy. Says Mr Sen: “We are now engrossed in the challenge of providing a 360 degree experience to our clients, while assisting them in their brand promotion programs.To further that aim we are in the process of rolling out a slew of new initiatives.”

We are now engrossed in the challenge of providing a 360 degree experience to our clients’’

To start with, Contract has set up a ‘Medical advisory cell’ headed by an experienced medical advisor,Dr.B.K.Iyer. Through this cell, Contract plans plans to provide specialized services like CMEs, medical animations and research advisory comments to its clients.

To support this move, the agency has also set up a ‘Healthcare PR cell’ supported by competent professionals.At present, Contract Health’s clients include, Organon, USV, DRL, Pfizer, Novo..with whom the agency work in diverse therapeutic groups like Contraception, Nutraceuticals, Glaucoma and Andropause.

According to Mr Sen, most agencies seem to think that healthcare communications is to be classified as a different media, something like DM, events, PR or mass-media. “They forget that Healthcare like automobiles, banking and FMCG is an industry with its own specific and demanding advertising needs,” he explains.

Further, Mr Sen adds that while mass media professionals provide lip service to other media alternatives like direct marketing and public relations in their brand building strategies and thus fragmentation of the media services continues unabated. “The only branch of advertising that provides the advertising practitoner, a window of opportunity to practice what they preach is healthcare communications,” he explains.

As the accent is on ‘360 degree communications’, Contract has launched a host of marketing initiatives which include, Professional Communication Strategy, DTC (Direct to consumer communication), Events for doctors and internal customers to launch brands, Ability to undertake CMEs (continued medical education), Exhibitions in scientific conferences and symposia, Motivational workshops and training programs for internal customers (PSRs), Designing and producing medical animations, CRM and/or DRM (Doctor relationship strategies) in co-operation with DM units and Web based strategies for supporting the brand building program.

Realising the growing significance of healthcare communication in India, Indian advertising majors are now chanting a new mantra, ‘Health is wealth’.

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