Healthcare communications agency CDM, part of Omnicom Health Group, has launched its first Asia-based office in Tokyo through a joint venture with FleishmanHillard.
While also serving global clients, the newly established unit aims to help Japan-headquartered pharma, medical-device and other health-oriented companies and institutions communicate to affiliates, prescribers, and patients in outside markets.
FleishmanHillard Japan is forming a healthcare-dedicated PR division in tandem with the launch. CDM and this group will share the same workspace in the FleishmanHillard Tokyo office.
"The fact is that Japan is the second-largest healthcare market in the world," Shin Tanaka, president of FleishmanHillard Japan, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. Policy changes such as accelerated drug approvals, as well as Japan's ageing population, are driving increased innovation not only in pharma but also in medical devices, he added.
"Four of top 25 top pharma makers are headquartered in Japan," said Adam Weiss, MD of CDM Tokyo. "Japan has traditionally regarded itself as a local market. But in recent years it is becoming a global hub. And with all of the momemtum that is heading toward the magic year 2020...there is a lot of positive pressure building up in the market. We think one of the outcomes is going to be the active globalisation of Japanese brands into the rest of the world."
Kyle Barich, global CEO of CDM, said that when a client needs to, for example, raise awareness about a disease, the disctinction between advertising and PR is an artificial one. Combining the two toolkits under one roof makes sense for clients. "With a lot of client challenges, it's hard for the clients to say whether they are advertising challenges or PR challenges," he said. "So having us together creates lots of opportunities where we can solve problems together in innovative ways."
Weiss allowed that foreign-owned agencies have not made much headway with domestic brands in the past, but added that the domestic agencies don't have as much global experience. "At some point someone is going to have to bridge that gap," he said. With experience and know-how from operating in the healthcare sector's hubs worldwide, CDM believes it has a lot to offer to the Japanese brands that are going global. "That is a large, unserved need," he said.