Publicis acquires Heartbeat Ideas

Lost business opportunities tied to clients consolidating with major holding companies coupled with the lack of a global network placed the once independently owned digital agency Heartbeat Ideas on the hunt for a solution. The solution has now manifested itself via a merger with the Saatchi & Saatchi Health U.S. entities. The merger has made Heartbeat Ideas a member of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. The move creates a new market player of unparalleled vigor and depth, according to Publicis executives.

Heartbeat CEO and founder Bill Drummy will maintain his current position in addition to joining the leadership team at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness with co-managing directors Kathy Delaney and JD Cassidy. Delaney will additionally retain her role as a global chief creative officer at PHCG. The newly combined agency and team leaders will report to PHCG Global Group President Sam Welch. Heartbeat’s existing management team will also remain in place, as will its independent locations in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood and in Santa Monica, Calif.

Drummy launched Heartbeat Ideas in a Hoboken, N.J., apartment 15 years ago, with his agency recently celebrating its anniversary. He told Med Ad News that although the agency experienced 52 percent growth last year, a trend began to emerge that he had to consider strategically. “We were seeing more and more of our clients consolidate with major holding companies,” Drummy says. “We kept losing business to the point where we were not even allowed to pitch. We were not even in the door.”

The second factor involved in the search for a partner was that the Heartbeat Ideas team started to notice an increase in global opportunities. Additionally, the third condition was that Heartbeat Ideas executives wanted a partner that would allow the agency to retain what made it unique. “When we looked at it from that vantage point, there was an absolute clear choice, and that was Publicis,” Drummy told Med Ad News. “Publicis really rose to the top.”

New York-based Saatchi & Saatchi Health Communications and Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness will now operate as one entity under the latter name. Heartbeat Ideas and its sister agency, Heartbeat West, will operate under the names “Heartbeat Ideas, a member of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness,” and “Heartbeat West, a member of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness.”

Heartbeat employs a team of 90 members between its New York and California offices. Whether in mobile, social, or online branding campaigns, Heartbeat’s work has led to measurably superior results for a broad range of world-class healthcare brands, according to the agency. Heartbeat’s clientele includes Galderma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Teva, and XenoPort.

“We are thrilled to welcome Heartbeat to the PHCG family of agencies,” says Nick Colucci, president and CEO of PHCG. “Its addition to our flagship Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness brands in the U.S. demonstrates our deep understanding of our clients’ need to have a communications partner that can look at their brands holistically and provide interconnected and innovative solutions.”

Heartbeat executives have communicated the merger to staff and are ready to move forward to the next step. “We are going to continue to educate our own people on what the other resources are that we have to bear and we are going to educate our clients as well,” Drummy told Med Ad News. “Also, one last big point is what I see as a real key change in the way that the industry is going. Digital revolution and the healthcare reform revolution are both coming together to make dramatic changes in the way that pharmaceuticals has to be marketed. While it may be really clear to me that it is changing, our clients have to set themselves up and react.”

Posted: December 2013

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