WPP arms foray into content globally, healthcare in India

MUMBAI: Ad agencies are making forays into new areas in a bid to increase revenues. The leader WPP and its arms have taken the lead. Globally, JWT has already entered the content business and producing shows for television.

Closer home, WPP's Sudler & Hennessey, one of the leading global healthcare communications firm, has launched its operations in India in lieu for the forthcoming WTO (World Trade Organisation) norms which will change the name of the marketing and communication game for India's pharmaceutical companies.

Glossy men's magazine Gear and ad agency J Walter Thompson are teaming up to produce pop culture TV programming.

The first project is a half-hour music series called Conversations which will be hosted by Gear editor in chief Bob Guccione Jr. Guccione founded Spin magazine in the '80s and still has many contacts with musicians. There is no word yet on where the show will run.

The crossover from magazines to TV and film has become an increasingly popular trend. From CosmoGirl to Outdoor Life, magazines have been lending their names to TV programs to expand revenue streams and to expand brand awareness. Leading men's magazine Maxim recently inked a deal to produce movies.

Meanwhile, WPP's Sudler & Hennessey (S&H) has entered the Indian market through 50:50 tie-up with Rediffusion DY&R. The JV firm will offer communication services for the healthcare segment. Formed nearly 60 years ago, S&H has a presence in more than 17 countries with an annualised billings of over $900 million. The group boasts of several global clients such as Glaxo Smithkline, Pfizer, J&J, Novartis, Roche - all of which have a presence in India.

S&H will have two divisions - S&H Communications and Intramed. The first division will focus on OTC (over the counter) and prescription brands whereas Intramed will develop educational and awareness programmes. The various services on offer include brand positioning, medical education and communication, professional marketing and promotion, consultative assessment, consumer marketing and promotion, corporate brand identity, package design and market research.

The unorganised sector comprises of a major chunk of the Indian healthcare segment and the absence of inadequate laws (related to patents) add to the woes of the organised players. S&H will offer a viable alternative to companies who wish to communicate and educate the consumers. S&H has also developed models to enable pharma companies to work with doctors and directly with consumers.

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