Holmes Report 21 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
The past few years have seen a concerted effort on the part of some of the U.K.’s leading healthcare specialist firms to expand from their traditional base in the ethical pharmaceutical realm into the increasingly lucrative consumer health arena. Pegasus founder and managing director Lisa Bradley is not concerned: her Brighton-based firm has been building its leadership position in consumer health for more than 16 years, working with leaders such as Bausch & Lomb, Burt’s Bees, Holland & Barrett and sanofi-Aventis and more recently earning a place on the Department of Health roster for the first time. Pegasus is the only consumer healthcare specialist to rank among the U.K.’s top 10 healthcare firms, and has been expanding its pharmaceutical roster too.
Bradley started her own firm in 1992, after working for two Brighton-based firms, with a single client, and grew steadily over the next decade. But it is over the past four years that the firm has begun to emerge as a significant player on the national stage, more than doubling in size. Growth of about 16 percent in 2010 means the firm will end the year with fee income of around £2.75 million.
The firm’s focus is on “inspiring consumers to make healthy decisions,” and it uses an approach that begins with “intelligent insight” (a process that seeks to understand the cultural, social, personal and psychological factors that drive consumer behavior) and culminates in high impact consumer campaigns—using traditional public relations, broad marketing communications and digital and social media vehicles—that build brands and drive consumer behavior in categories ranging from OTC pharmaceuticals to natural health to functional foods to beauty products.
To do that, it draws on a team that includes PR professionals, former journalists, marketers and digital experts, a team strengthened in recent years by the addition of experts such as director Simon Hackett, who started his career at Edelman where he worked on O2, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson and Abbott Laboratories; associate director Helen Yeardsley, who previously worked at Brave PR and Midnight; and creative director Stuart Hehir, who previously held the same title at Lexis and was head of consumer for tech agency Chameleon. Tim Adams, who co-founded Lexis PR and built it into one of the country’s most respected consumer PR firms, serves as non-executive chairman. The most significant addition of the past 12 months was former Cohn & Wolfe board director Jo Spadaccino, who joined in June, taking up a newly-created role as the director of the pharmaceutical and life sciences division, leading both public relations and professional education campaigns.
The firm continues to work with longtime clients such as Thornton & Ross, Bausch & Lomb, SimplyHealth, Holland & Barrett, Sanofi Aventis and Goldshield. New business included an assignment from Bayer to promote Drontal, the U.K.’s most popular worming product, to consumers; and work from Sk:n clinics, a leading provider of cosmetic injectables and laser treatment; Brainlab, an award-winning innovator in image-guided aurgery and radiosurgery (for the launch its new radiosurgery device Novalis TX); and the London Vision Clinic.
Over the past three years, the firm has picked up more than 25 awards for its work in the sector, including two OTC Bulletin awards and a Chartered Institute of Public Relations Grand Prix in 2009. In the past 12 months, it won the Communique Award for Best Consumer Health Programme for the third time in four years for its work on behalf of Thornton & Ross head-lice treatment Hedrin. The firm also continued its work on the “Put Your Hearing to the Test” campaign for Boots Hearing Care, prompting the client’s director of marketing Keith Willis to praise an approach the “combined great creativity around a dry-subject area with a clear and concise message to consumers over 50. Appointments rose steeply during the period, despite the weather not being on our side.”
Finally, the firm recently became a member of the GlobalCom PR-Network, which includes 40 independent PR and marketing communications agencies across 69.