Interpublic pairs FCB Health, McCann Health networks to form IPG Health

No agency brands will be eliminated and no layoffs are expected.

(L to R) John Cahill, Dana Maiman and Michael Guarino
(L to R) John Cahill, Dana Maiman and Michael Guarino

Interpublic Group has further intensified its focus on health, formally uniting its preeminent FCB Health and McCann Health networks under the new IPG Health banner. The realignment, set to be announced to staff at both organizations on Thursday morning, creates one of the agency world’s most comprehensive and geographically expansive offerings.

IPG Health will be led by former FCB Health Network chief Dana Maiman as CEO, with executive chairman John Cahill, chief operating and financial officer Raj Singhal, chief commercial officer Mike Guarino, chief medical communications officer Charlie Buckwell and chief talent officer Lisa DuJat joining her on the organization’s leadership team. No layoffs are expected and no agency brands will be eliminated. The combined group will count some 5,300 healthcare communicators under its myriad roofs across six continents and 80-plus countries.

Maiman will report to Interpublic Group CEO Philippe Krakowsky – who, in recent months, has clearly noticed the contributions of FCB Health and McCann Health to the parent company’s bottom line.

“The health operations at McCann and FCB performed strongly in the quarter and continue to take share in the marketplace,” he noted during IPG’s first-quarter earnings call in April. He singled out FCB Health’s #ClinicalEquality campaign, designed to root out racial bias in oncology clinical trials, as especially impactful.

In a videotaped message set to be broadcast to employees of both companies on Thursday morning, Krakowsky said the creation of IPG Health represents “a vote of confidence in your expertise and skill sets.”

Cahill echoed that sentiment. “Everybody knows we’re in a unique moment of time for healthcare globally,” he said. “The whole of humanity has moved to a health-ready state… We’re taking this health-readiness out of the pandemic necessity and using it as a springboard for moving health needles around the world more significantly.”

Cahill noted that the idea of an overarching Interpublic health group had been bandied about in conversations “for quite a few years.” At the same time, he pointed to the parent company’s “open architecture,” through which the two networks have frequently mixed and matched teams pairing McCann Health and FCB Health talent.

“It’s kind of been a boot camp for what we’re doing,” he explained. “We’re not strangers to each other.”

Guarino, an FCB Health veteran, agreed, adding, “This is really easy owing to the connectivity FCB and McCann have had over the years. There’s a shared culture, a shared vision, a shared sense of purpose. All our complementary pieces drove the successes we’ve had together.”

FCB Health network agency brands include flagship shops FCB Health New York, Area 23, FCBCure and Neon, while McCann Health network brands include McCann Health New York, McCann Health New Jersey and McCann Health Managed Markets. According to MM+M’s 2021 Agency 100 presentation, the four FCB brands generated an estimated $635 million in North American revenue during 2020 (up 24% over 2019), while McCann Health generated an estimated $262 million (up 15%).

Given the high regard for many of IPG Health’s individual agencies – among clients, employees and Cannes Lions Health jurors alike – it’s no surprise that the elimination of any of those brands was never seriously considered. “They have unique repertoires and talent and culture. It is very important they survive and thrive moving forward,” Cahill stressed.

For the most part, then, the 30 or so brands will compete against each other in much the same manner they always have. “It’s a sibling rivalry in a healthy way,” Guarino said. “It’s all for the same family and it’s healthy competition. Someone else doesn’t have to fail in order for you to succeed.”

Thus the question of potential client conflicts is moot. When IPG Health was rolled out to select clients during the last few weeks, the response was “very positive,” Cahill said. But he noted that “for many of the clients we’ve already been working with in open architecture, it’s an a-ha moment and a ho-hum moment at the same time… They know us. It gives them even more reason to start looking at us for more brands and portfolios.”

As for what the unification of FCB Health and McCann Health says about Interpublic Group’s expectations for and ambitions around health, Cahill and Guarino believe the decision speaks for itself.

“When you look at what has happened in the landscape of health in the last 500 days, there’s no sector in the business world that isn’t looking at health,” Cahill said. “It’s a unique moment in time for IPG to take that bold step.”

“Health used to be kind of the forgotten child of the family,” Guarino added. “But over the last five years, there’s been a significant shift. Health is the great equalizer in driving equity and inclusion. People have taken notice.”

This story first appeared on MM+M.

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