Omnicom Wants to Disrupt Healthcare Marketing With a Newly Forged Agency

Sharon Callahan will lead TBWA\WorldHealth

Omnicom has decided it's time to disrupt healthcare marketing. Today the holding company announced the launch of TBWA\WorldHealth, combining the offices of agencies LLNS and Corbett to create a global network.

Sharon Callahan, a longtime veteran of Omnicom's healthcare division, will be CEO of the new unit while retaining her title as chief client officer of the larger Omnicom Health Group. Robin Shapiro, formerly president of Corbett, will serve as group president of the network's North American division under Callahan.

"Both [LLNS and Corbett] are going away," Callahan told Adweek. "We are, as of now, one agency with nine locations around the world … united by our belief in the methods of disruption and finding new space for brands to live."

The announcement comes as healthcare accounts for an ever larger share of the global economy and begins to make its way into the marketing plans of seemingly unrelated brands. Callahan said, "Even brands approaching [Omnicom] about pitches were finding healthcare in everything—our largest client, Apple, has the Apple Watch, while Nissan has developed self-driving cars which will be amazing for handicapped people. We call it 'the healthification of everything.'"

Omnicom Health Group CEO Ed Wise added, "Healthcare is transforming before our eyes, and it's ripe for an agency that has a confident point of view about how to communicate around 21st century healthcare."

The new network will offer Omnicom clients increased scale and more resources by adding offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Irvine, Calif., to compliment its existing locations in London, Paris, Istanbul, Mexico City and Hamburg.

"[The healthcare industry] has been doing things in a very old-fashioned way, and we feel it's time to shake it up," said Callahan. "For example, we're already starting to experiment with responding in real time versus the long cycles that our pharma clients typically have."

Callahan believes global healthcare clients will find success in messaging that relates to consumers on a more personal level. "If you look at healthcare advertising directed at consumers, it's all people strolling in a park with a dog or looking lovingly at each other," she said, "and you can't tell one brand from another. We need to talk about it in a much more human way." As an example of the kind of work to expect from Omnicom moving forward, Callahan cited BBDO's recent work for health insurance giant Humana.

Most former LLNS and Corbett clients will see no immediate changes in the services they receive from their agencies, but Callahan told Adweek to expect more moves on the healthcare front.