Asia-Pacific Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year 2017 | Holmes Report
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2017 Asia-Pacific Healthcare PR Consultancies of the Year

The 2017 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 100 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. Consultancy of the Year winners were announced and honoured at the 2017 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, on 14 September in Hong Kong. Analysis of all Finalists (and Winners from 15 September) can be accessed via the navigation menu or below:

SPAG Asia (Independent)
Launched just four years ago, SPAG has already established itself as an industry game changer in the Asia-Pacific market as a cross between a public affairs and healthcare shop with three distinct brands: SPAG Asia, D Yellow Elephant and Giga Health (which was acquired in 2016).

The group has grown more than 100% year-over-year since its 2013 launch while still keeping headcount low with the philosophy that one right individual is worth more than 10 others. The team works on clients that include PhRMA, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, US Chamber of Commerce, Hilleman Laboratories, Intertek, ResMed in addition new clients include AdvaMed, Novartis, Cipla, Dr. Reddy Laboratory Abbott, Boston Scientific, Abbott Vascular, Biocon and Pfizer Nestle. The firm holds the unique positioning of never yet losing a client.

Its work has garnered SPAG recognition as the Holmes Report’s New Agency of the Year in the region two years ago, in addition to multiple SABRE Awards for work with clients like PFCD and US Chamber of Commerce. — AaS 


Finalists

Cosmo PR (Japan/Independent)
One of the most enduring PR firms in Japan, Cosmo navigated through significant changes in technology, government and beyond — but has remained focused on helping brands steer through the nuanced Japanese market and connect with influential key opinion leaders. The firm maintains a network of senior advisers to ensure up to date knowledge on current legislation and regulations — in particular when strict changes were recently enacted regarding Japan’s promotional code within the health industry.

The firm maintains a stable headcount of up to 50 full time staff, excluding its network of specialized advisors. Maintaining a relatively small staff gives the firm the ability to stay agile and remain specialized — while still being able to support client needs across various project sizes. The firm has been around since the 1960. 

In 2016, Cosmo grew its operating profit by 13%, this coincided with a period when Japan’s GDP growth rate was less than 1%. Despite challenging changes to the regulatory environment, healthcare continues to represent more than 70% of its client base with services that range from disease awareness campaigns (including a novel online news platform, to help educate the public and move away from doctor-led conversations), to advocacy activities (to promote drug value and support accurate pricing).

Separately, Cosmo refocused Women’s Health as one of its key practice areas. Recent activities include developing the Women’s Health Policy Primer ‘Healthier Women, Healthier Economy – Building a Stronger Economy by Empowering Women through Better Health,’ with the Healthcare Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) and the European Business Council in Japan (EBC). The primer recommends improvements to government and businesses on health literacy and education, self- health, and reproductive health. — AaS

SenateSHJ (Australia/Independent)
Now in its 15th year, and with a team of 60 spanning offices in Australia and New Zealand, SenateSHJ is differentiated primarily by its ability to do the difficult things well. While it’s business spans a range of practice areas, the firm is at its best handling difficult corporate reputation challenges (change management and employee engagement a particular focus), public affairs and issues management, and healthcare work.
 
The latter sector has seen considerable growth over the past 12 months under the leadership of Sue Cook, who previously led by Hill+Knowlton’s Australian operations and the agency’s Asia-Pacific healthcare practice. New healthcare business came from the likes of Bayer and National Disability Insurance, while the firm continues its work for GSK and Novartis, among others. Award-winning work included the “My Cancer, My Voice” CSR program and the “Facing the Health of Australians” initiative with The Australian Medicine Industry.
 
Elsewhere, there has been a focus on expanding digital and social capabilities: the expanded team includes former APN digital editor Irene Chapple and new head of digital in New Zealand, Erin Leuschke (a veteran of digital roles in the UK and Europe).
 
Overall growth last year was around 7.5%, with new business from a mix of public sector clients (the Ministry of Justice, the New Zealand Navy) and others (Bank of Melbourne, the University of Auckland). They join a roster that includes Statoil, Waste Management New Zealand, Australia Post, and the Department of Education & Training. The firm ended 2016 with fee income of more than $10 million (US), one of the largest independents in the market. — PH 

Weber Shandwick (IPG)
While healthcare can still feel like something of an afterthought for the region’s top PR networks, Weber Shandwick’s growth in the sector suggests that it might finally be coming of age in Asia-Pacific. The firm grew its healthcare revenue by 21% in 2016, driven by strong performances from Australia, India, Singapore and Malaysia. There was particularly strong expansion from its top 10 healthcare clients, which includes such names as Abbott and Takeda, along with new business from Sanofi, Pfizer, Asia Dengue Vaccination Advocacy, Parkway Health Group, Novartis and GSK.

Much of that work, furthermore, is increasingly digital, involving data visualisation, online video-streaming and WeChat engagement. Highlights included a campaign for Abbott’s Ensure supplement, which brought to life the forgotten dreams of the elderly to help children re-examine their roles as caregivers. For Jannsen, meanwhile, Weber Shandwick challenged the standards of mental health, partnering with the EIU to call on multiple governments to take action. — AS