PHCG brings Digitas Health to India; eyes China, Japan forays in 2013

Launched as a division of Publicis Life Brands Watermelon

May 17, 2013 03:04:00 PM | Article | Pritha Dasgupta

Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) has launched Digitas Health in India. The healthcare communications agency with focus on digital will operate as a division of healthcare specialist Publicis Life Brands Watermelon.

Publicis Life Brands Watermelon was formed following Publicis’ acquisition of Watermelon Healthcare Communications in 2011.


Digitas Health launched in the US six year ago, before setting shop in London in 2009. 

Ash Kuchel, global group president, PHCG, said, “We have been working closely with Life Brands Watermelon to launch Digitas Health in India. We internally launched Digitas Health yesterday (15 May 2013) and now we are open for business.”

June Dawson, group MD, Digitas Health, said, “This is our first outing outside of US and London with the Digitas Health offering and we are hoping to capitalise on the success we have achieved there. It is a very large agency in North America and we have replicated the model in London. We felt there was an opportunity here in India to replicate that. India is in a different point in terms of the adoption curve.”

“In London and in North America, it (digital) is ubiquitous. It’s a standard part of everything we do. So we are moving towards integrated communications as the normal,” she added.

Dawson explained that Digitas Health is expected to complement the Watermelon offering, which is traditionally very advertising-focused. “We believe that some of the expertise that we can bring to the table within the digital area will help elevate that offering”, she added.

Healthware merged into Razorfish

In 2012, PHCG launched Publicis Healthware International (PHI), an integrated agency focused on improving communications across the health and wellness community, with eHealth and IT focus.

“We had a global realignment of that brand and it has been merged with Razorfish Healthware. Clients are moving towards a more centralised approach. They are looking the efficiencies that a global network can bring. Within the healthcare group we have two streams internationally which allows us on brands consistently.”

The agency’s global clientele includes Nestle, Novartis, MyLan, Pfizer and Santa Fe Healthcare. “We are starting to see more and more the need for a global network partner and not a series of 20 boutiques all doing their own thing,” added Dawson, underlining the need for a coordinated approach to healthcare communications.

The India growth story, eye on Asia

Abhijit Shishut, managing director, Publicis Life Brands Watermelon, said, “Over the last two years, we have seen an average growth of 20 per cent. Domestic players are now ready to embrace new-age technologies in the healthcare communications space. Even the personal selling model is changing. The migration to tablets (tablet computers) is phenomenal in India and therefore there could be various web-based platforms, which clients are willing to embrace.”

Kuchel reflected that the nature of the healthcare business has changed and that it has been changing for some time, with India following the West in terms of adoption of digital.

He said, “It is same in China and same in Japan. Digital as an offering is incredibly important. It is a response not just to the changing pharmaceutical industry but for the entire health and wellness business as well.”

PHCG is looking to expand Digitas Health into other Asian markets this year, including China and Japan, revealed Kuchel.