Lynn O’Connor Vos, President and chief executive

Report by Lynn O’Connor Vos (above)
President and chief executive

In 2008, ghg proved itself resilient and steadfast in its commitment to provide clients with big ideas, access to the best services and innovative campaigns. In spite of a very difficult year, the company succeeded in realizing some breakthrough wins, achieving double-digit growth in several areas – branding, marketing consulting, search and digital, as well as expanding our scope of work.

ghg made strategic infrastructure changes and acquisitions, and effectively incorporated digital thinking into our portfolio of products and services to continue driving digital performance to a new level. Our all-encompassing practice includes professional marketing, consumer marketing, digital marketing, global branding, sales solutions, access strategy, scientific visualization and medical education.

One of the most significant accomplishments was the win, in partnership with sister WPP companies, of a significant portion of the J&J pharmaceutical brands portfolio.

The win was based on a unique integrated model that addresses the need for change in the healthcare industry today. A second outstanding win came in the fourth quarter when we were named Professional Agency-of-Record for Colgate Palmolive Oral Care Worldwide. ghg also increased its US business with Novartis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Essilor and Den-Mat, while Catalyst online, a leading search optimization company and now part of GroupM, grew at a double-digit rate.

ghg Paris and ghg Cologne won assignments from Merck for Gardasil, Colgate, Pfizer and Novartis. WG Consulting, the premier market access strategies company, won assignments from three of the top five healthcare companies in Europe. The team was also awarded preferred supplier for the Department of Health in the UK being quoted by the Minister of Health as a “known and trusted partner”.

We expanded our digital suite of technology companies with the acquisition of Osprey Communications, a leading healthcare technology and interactive solutions agency. This investment strengthens our capabilities in a rapidly growing marketing sector, and gives us the opportunity to digitize medical education. In addition, IMsci, in partnership with Osprey, created breakthrough medical education platforms for Novartis and Ciba, among others.

BrandEdge, our specialty marketing consulting division, experienced double-digit growth. The company continues long-standing relationships with Calpis USA and Siemens Medical Solutions. New business wins included Bayer Schering’s Yaz franchise, Melafind, a novel, hand-held imaging device that detects suspicious pigmented skin lesions, and Omnicare, to reposition the company’s messaging for their Purchasing and Technology Software groups.

Vogel-Farina, the specialty oncology agency had a fantastic year, experiencing double-digit growth in 2008 and winning new projects from Novartis, Forest Laboratories, Tolerx, Acceleron Pharma, Abbott, Novartis, Genzyme and Cell Therapeutics Inc. The agency received the Rx Club Award of Excellence in the mixed media campaign, direct mail, and premiums/promotions categories.

ghg remained a leader in its recognition for our creative work around the world. Accolades included the Cine Golden Eagle for medical animation; an award from the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) for vaccine solutions; a Manny award for best consumer website on behalf of Essilor; four silver Davey awards for work with Calpis, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Astellas Pharma and Strativa Pharmaceuticals; and best PSA from MM&M for pro bono work done on behalf of the Helen Keller Foundation. ghg Paris won a Fragonard Trophy for best ads in animal health, and ghg Germany was recognized with a Comprix award for best-integrated OTC campaign.

In 2008 we began to diversify our client mix, which ranges from OTC and traditional pharmaceutical to dental, oncology and animal health and, as a result, the company has a healthy outlook for 2009. This diversity and an integrated structure has significantly decreased our exposure to risk, FDA denials and delays, as well as pharmaceutical cutbacks, and positioned us to become a pre-eminent healthcare communications company.

We remain committed to providing clients with access to a comprehensive global network of companies that offers an integrated, multi-channel approach to get brands into all the conversations that matters, enabling clients to reach their customers – physicians, caregivers, payers and patients – with the most effective offline and online media.