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Independent agencies band together in global network

Published on 26/11/04 at 04:21pm

PAN Advertising has formed a global network of independent healthcare communications agencies they hope will allow them to challenge the multinational giants dominating the sector.

The Indigenus network is already working on its first two global projects after competing against agencies from established global groups such as WPP and Omnicom.

Ben Davies, managing director of London-based PAN, said: "Independent agencies are more flexible and entrepreneurial, have fewer overheads, and the owner-manager involvement in the day-to-day business offers numerous benefits to clients.

"Indigenus clients are able to reap the benefits of working with independents without losing the global brand vision and geographical coverage offered by a network."

PAN will act as the hub of the network's European base, working with agencies in the five largest European markets, including Strategik & Numerik (France), Trio Westag (Germany) and Emmedi (Italy).

In the US, the world's largest pharmaceutical market, the network also includes New York-based agency The Cement Works.

Driven by the globalisation of pharmaceutical marketing and renewed pressure on costs, independent healthcare communications agencies have increasingly found themselves either frozen out of pitches or bought up by larger companies to become part of a multinational network.

Consolidation continues apace in the sector, with WPP buying the last independent multinational communications group the Grey Global Group earlier this year for $1.5 billion.

The larger groups usually retain most of their historic agencies within a network, and say the system provides flexibility and a range of services but the Indigenus partners argue the large groups have not retained the benefits of smaller agencies.

Rico Viray, a Partner at The CementWorks, commented: "We have come together because we share a mutual trust, respect and collaborative approach that is lacking in many of the large global agency groups."

Where most global networks are run by a holding company that directs its satellite agencies, Indigenus says it will be a co-operative network of leading independent shops that have come together by choice.

The network covers 70% of the industry in terms of market valuation and will offer a 'multilocal' rather than a 'multinational' approach that will play to the agencies' understanding of their local markets.

Two of the network companies, PAN and The Cement Works, share a common bond in Boehringer Ingelheim's Spiriva, for which the US company was the global agency and PAN handled the product's UK implementation.

PAN's own stateside profile rose recently with recognition from the 2004 Global Awards.

A campaign developed by PAN and Boehringer Ingelheim for the pharma company's Respimat Soft Mist Inhaler (SMI) won the top prize, a Global Award, in the category for international core campaigns aimed at the professional target audience.

Dieter Kemmer, international team leader at Boehringer Ingelheim, said their biggest challenge had been to develop strong branding to raise awareness and interest pre-launch, as well as to complement branding for all products using the Respimat technology.

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WPP acquires Grey for $1.5 billion

Thursday , September 16, 2004


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