Spirit W | The trendsetters in the communication industry: Sorento's Susan Josi

They are the largest multi channel Pharma communication agency.  They are the most awarded agency in Health and Wellness domain and proud owners of a Cannes Lion. 
Sorento Healthcare Communications need no introduction. Boasting an enviable portfolio of brands in the Health and Wellness domain, Sorento has become a full-fledged butterfly. Sorento has been handling the entire communication mix for leading pharmaceutical companies in India. This includes strategically promoted refreshing communication campaigns, ground level communication, brand launches as well as the emerging domain of medical communication. 
Adgully caught up with the person at the helm of affairs, Susan Josi, Managing Partner, who shed light on brand’s achievements, expectations and future plans in the Health and Wellness domain.
Adgully (AG): How would you like to place communication in the Healthcare industry now in India? 
Susan Josi (SJ): It has evolved, but honestly speaking it is much below my own expectations as many large companies are still very rudimentary in their approach. The visual aid and the rep's in clinic interaction is still the centre of attention for most brand managers, while the doctor has moved on as he is no longer dependent only on the rep for info as it was in earlier days. 
However there are a few companies who have transitioned to a much more multi channel approach and keep the patient at the centre, which is interesting to note as the dynamics of the brand engagement then goes beyond just the doctor. 
A few recent brands in chronic care have been built very rapidly and much larger with this approach like Januvia and Galvus, the two stars in diabetes management. 
AG: How is Sorento Healthcare different from other players in the market?
SJ: Sorento with its 90-member team is one of the largest multi channel communication agency in Health and Wellness domain in India. We have always invested in the best talent and with that we have been able to strengthen each of our four divisions spanning across Brand Communications, Medical Education, Business Intelligence and Patient Management. We are also one of the most awarded agencies in this domain and are the proud owners of a Cannes Lion, which our team won last year.
We infuse creativity and innovation at every level and get our teams to be trendsetters in their areas. Developing cutting edge strategic thinking has always been the focus within the agency and this is the DNA of Sorento, which differentiates us from the rest. We also get our global insights and learning through our exclusive tie up with Indigenus network which is a global network of independent healthcare agencies in 14 countries across all major markets. This helps us do some interesting global work without being acquired by any network. 
AG: Can you share some of your path-breaking work?
SJ: As an agency we have been pioneers in this domain space. When we started the agency way back in 1994, there was no concept of developing strategic brand communications outside the Pharma Company. But the first break we got from Sandoz, now Novartis, gave us a head start in handling almost Rs 45crs., which included the popular OTC brand Calcium Sandoz along with a range of Nutraceutical products. 
Calcium Sandoz was a very small brand but with a huge consumer equity and we developed a complete blueprint with a pilot launch to move this brand OTC. The success spurred Novartis to make this their first OTC brand launch when their consumer healthcare division was launched. My interest in deep diving into the OTC space was triggered that time and we are proud to say that we are one of the only focused OTC consulting company with our division CubeX launching many customised and syndicated reports in this field through our exclusive tie up with the Global experts in OTC, Nicholas Hall and Co.UK.
We also have been handling the GSK vaccine portfolio from the past 8 years wherein we have developed some very interesting doctor and consumer led strategies, which we are proud of. 
AG: What growth path have you charted for the group?
SJ: Just like most global agencies, we clearly identified that we will be much more multi channel than just focused on advertising. This vision is paying us dividends and we have evolved a more sustainable and scalable agency model which has value driven and have strengthened our positioning as true communication partners to our clients.
AG: Any syndicated research that you are launching for the benefit of the industry?
SJ: We have a repository of many syndicated reports targeted for clients interested in the Consumer healthcare space. Almost all are mentioned with details on our website www.cubex.co.in. We are very proud that many global clients interested in India refer our reports and this has further augmented our efforts to bring out many more titles this year. We just launched a case study report chronicling the history and status till date of 18 OTC brands. 
The two other forthcoming reports are on the Nutraceutical/Vitamin Mineral Supplements Market and Ayurvedic Market opportunity in India. 
AG: What are some of the challenges that industry faces?
SJ: Talent is a challenge and so one does pay more to get the best. In the same context getting clients to remunerate for the kind of efforts invested is a major challenge. It was a completely new business when we started and so we had to always sell the concept of health care advertising to creative people and also the pharma/MBA people.
Both have other more known opportunities in their own field, so selling them this new opportunity was a challenge and remains to be so. That is why we always invest in training and other external programs in creativity and strategy, so that we get them attracted to the kind of talent development programs we have for them. 
We also send our creative teams for international and national award festivals to fuel their creative urges and comradeship with people from the advertising field.

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