GCI Health expands into MENA

The specialist WPPagency will integrate with ASDA'A BCW's healthcare team

Kath Kerry, president Europe and Middle East, GCI Health

GCI Health, a global speciality healthcare and medical communications agency, today announced its expansion into the Middle East. GCI Health will integrate with the healthcare team from regional PR agency ASDA’A BCW to operate as GCI Health Middle East. Both agencies are part of the WPP holding group.

The transition will provide new and existing clients with a high level of service and expertise, said the agency in a statemtent, bringing together the strategic, integrated, and creative heritage of ASDA’A BCW with GCI Health’s global healthcare specialist infrastructure.

“The launch of GCI Health Middle East enhances our capacity to deliver exceptional health focused communications in the region at a time when governments are investing significantly in healthcare infrastructure,” said Kristin Cahill, Global CEO, GCI Health. “By joining hands with ASDA’A BCW, we are delivering a significant value-add for our clients and healthcare partners in the region.”

GCI Health Middle East is being led by Kath Kerry, President of Europe & Middle East, who has over 20 years’ experience in global healthcare communications. Kerry will partner with Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, to lead the existing regional team and drive the growth of GCI Health Middle East.

“GCI Health Middle East brings the celebrated global healthcare communications competencies of GCI Health to our region, where we already serve health ministries and some of the largest healthcare providers, pharmaceutical and MedTech companies. As the region’s first specialist healthcare communications team, GCI Health Middle East will deliver impactful strategies to meet the needs of the public and private healthcare sectors in a fast-paced and changing environment,” said Sunil John.

GCI Health recorded significant growth in revenue in 2020 of 26 per cent, led by an increase in demand for specialist PR services by the health, pharma and wellness sectors.

Kerry told Campaign one reason is the agency’s speed to adapt. “We were very quick to adapt to a much more digitally focused approach to communications at the beginning,” she said.

The agency has a strong digital health team, which she said is a key differentiator. “Having worked at previous agencies, where you have digital specialists who dabble in health, we have health specialists who are digitally trained,” said Kerry. “That’s really critical when you’re operating in a digital environment in a healthcare space.”

The new agency will see ASDA’A’s services enhanced, and a growing head count. GCI Health Middle East has eight people in Dubai, and 25 across ASDA’A’s regional network of eight owned and nine affiliate offices. There are openings for at least five more team members to service a client list that includes AstraZeneca, Edwards Lifesciences, Roche Diagnostics, Novo Nordisk, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim and Allergan Aesthetics. GCI Health has about 360 employees worldwide.

It is likely that some future hires will be medical specialists, in contrast to a tendency in communications agencies to have “knowledge that is an inch thick and a mile wide,” as Kerry put it. John said that today we are seeing more specialism come into the PR and communications business. He gave the example of data analytics teams, and ASDA’A’s in-house creative division Proof and its research offering PSB Research.

“We always call it the power of three,” he said. “Now we need to call it the power of four.”