The European healthcare environment presented a number of challenges in 2010, with the global recession, a weak new drug pipeline, pharmaceutical industry consolidation, the growing influence of procurement departments, and increasingly difficult market access hurdles combining to make things difficult for companies and their public relations agencies. Some firms might have responded to such tough times by hunkering down and waiting for the market to revive, but the Chandler Chicco Companies have grown to become the largest specialist in the global healthcare sector by identifying and taking advantage of new opportunities, and so the emphasis over the past 12 months has been on innovation and integration, as the firm broadened the scope of its offer to continue its impressive growth.
The world’s largest healthcare public relations specialist, U.S.-based ChandlerChicco opened its U.K. office in 1998 and in less than a decade had grown into the leader in the European market too. It stopped reporting its numbers in 2007, after it was acquired by international healthcare communications company inVentiv Health, which chooses not to release detailed financials as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. But its EMEA revenues (including its French operation) are believed to be in excess of £11 million, making it by far the largest healthcare specialist in the region. It enjoyed growth of better than 10 percent in 2009, and will at least hold its own in 2010.
One reason for Chandler Chicco’s success is the fact that it has evolved into much more than just another pharmaceutical marketing agency. The firm has been diversifying its offering and moving upstream, working at more senior levels within client organizations and managing more complex and challenging communications assignments. Its offer includes 10 distinct units, including medical education company Litmus; BioSector 2, which focuses on the biotechnology and specialty pharma sectors; brandtectonics, a new unit led by Carsten Edwards which is focused on patient access—one of the most challenging issues facing pharmaceutical marketers in Europe—throughout the product life cycle; Allidura, a subsidiary focused on consumer health, wellness and beauty; digital specialist VerStone; creative unit ‘Nition; research offering Determinus; and Chandler Chicco Productions.
The firm continues to work with a who’s who of the global pharmaceutical industry, with major clients including Merck Serono, Novartis, Pfizer, Allergan and GlaxoSmithKline. New additions in 2010 included Eisai, The Coca Cola Company (demonstrating the firm’s successful expansion into the broader wellness and nutrition arena), Gilead, Integrated Bio Bank of Luxembourg, Vifor Pharma, Roche, and Carefusion, and there were expanded assignments with Pfizer, Merck Serono, Novartis, GSK and GSK biological, sanofi-aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson.
Interesting assignments included integrated efforts on behalf of Novartis around chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including public relations, medical education, and creative work); for Abbott, delivering an innovative iPad-based game at a symposium focused on mental health issues; and for Johnson & Johnson as it moved into the consumer space.
Strong leadership has clearly played a major part in that success. European chief executive Fiona Hall has agency experience with Weber Shandwick (where she was head of the European healthcare practice) and Shire Health, client-side experience as marketing manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and is a registered nurse. She was joined in September by Alison Wright, formerly a board director at Cohn & Wolfe, who brings more than 15 years experience on the agency and client sides of the business and will be working with Hall to expand the firm’s regional and global business. They are supported by a diverse team that includes PhDs, former journalists, former reps, and a host of health policy and consumer health marketing experts.
The team at Chandler Chicco is “sharp, strategic, creative and driven to exceptional client service,” says Janet Kettels, EU senior communications manager for Allergan, who adds that the firm’s people “truly understand that helping me exceed my business objectives is mutually beneficial.”
The firm continues to be recognized as an employer of choice in both the United States and more recently in the U.K. It has one of the most sophisticated professional development programmes of any midsize firm, a professional mentoring programme, offers secondments across all three major regions, flexible working, an internal awards programme, and weekly manicures, pedicures and massages for those who complete their timesheets on time. All of that contributes to a staff retention rate of about 84 percent, considerably higher than industry average.

Chandler Chicco has also continued to expand its international reach, largely through the addition of 24 affiliate agencies in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, many of them healthcare specialists.