2018 Global Healthcare Agencies of the Year




Still only 10 years old, GCI Health has established itself not only as one of the best healthcare PR firms in the US — it won Healthcare Agency of the Year in 2017 — but one of the best midsize agencies of any kind. Another year of 25% revenue growth brings the firm close to the $50 million mark, and GCI now has a team of 160 people globally—more than 140 of those in the North American market. New business came from Abbott’s nutrition and diabetes care divisions, Bristol Myers Squibb, and a number of new Pfizer brands — GCI now works for eight of the top 10 global pharma companies — and smaller passion projects like Cohen Veterans Bioscience, which is helping veterans address PTSD.

At the heart of the agency’s success is the patient-centric approach it developed three years ago, which uses both traditional research and its own immersion in client communities to understand consumers’ whole lives, not just their conditions or treatments. That has led to some innovative work in the sector, whether it’s a corporate storytelling campaign for Pfizer humanizing its CSR work fighting neglected tropical diseases; an influencer-driven strategy for device-maker Abbott and its Freestyle Libre diabetes technology; an unusual media partnership with IHeartRadio to encourage patients to “tune into AFib” for BMS/Pfizer. The firm also has its own media partnership — with Redbook — promoting women’s health.

As should be evident from all that, GCI Health is a very “mission-driven” company — something that global CEO Wendy Lund and president of North America Kristin Cahill have continuously encouraged — resulting in one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry and regular appearances on our Best Agencies to Work For lists, voted on by employees.

Meanwhile, at only four years old, the London business of GCI Health, WPP’s only specialist healthcare agency, is in fine fettle. It grew to 19 employees in 2017, and revenue rose 60% to £2.5m, smashing targets and successfully competing for work with much bigger agencies in a year where a huge global talent shortage for healthcare comms professionals became evident. The currently all-female agency has a formidable leadership team – joint MDs Kath Kerry and Rikki Jones, client services director Hannah Morris, director Claire Martin and associate director Caroline Burtt – who are rightly proud of the progress they’ve made this year in navigating the business out of boutique territory and firmly on course to be a mid-size European healthcare agency. They’ve done this while maintaining a caring environment that encourages flexible working and treats everyone like a grown-up, leading to 96% staff retention. — PH/MPS