Publicis Groupe picks up majority stake in leading Mumbai healthcare advertising agency

Publicis Groupe is to acquire a majority stake in Watermelon Healthcare Communications Private Limited, a leading healthcare advertising agency in Mumbai, India. Post the stake acquisition, Watermelon will become part of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) and will be renamed Publicis Life Brands Watermelon. This transaction is subject to customary local closing conditions.

Watermelon is a full-service advertising agency with business around traditional and new media. Nearly 40 employees work to deliver strategic planning, digital and branding, creative, medical education, research, public relations, and healthcare professional and consumer communications.

Ash Kuchel, President, PHCG Asia Pacific region said PHCG is delighted to welcome Watermelon to its network. Watermelon is the right fit and has the expertise to further develop PHCG’s healthcare communications credentials in new media and best-in-class practices in this important and rapidly emerging market, said Kuchel. PHCG will continue to expand its global presence throughout the region in the near future, he added.

Watermelon's clients includes many of the top pharma and biotech companies-AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Specialties, MSD Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis amongst others.

Post the investment, Watermelon's founders, Abhijit Shitut and Kiran Pai, will be named joint Managing Directors at Publicis Life Brands Watermelon.

Abhijit Shitut and Kiran Pai commented that the investment by PHCG is a significant milestone, given the firm’s global presence and outstanding business. The two said they believe the investment will help Watermelon change the landscape of healthcare communications in India.

The Watermelon founders further reiterated that because PHCG is respected for its excellence in global communications in the healthcare sector, Watermelon will work together with the firm in leveraging their knowledge and global network in the local market.

Publicis Groupe is the world's third largest communications group. With activities spanning 104 countries on five continents, Publicis Groupe employs approximately 49,000 professionals and offers local and international clients a complete range of advertising services through three global networks: Leo Burnett, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, and numerous agencies including Fallon, 49%-owned Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and Kaplan Thaler Group.

Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG) is the largest health-oriented agency network in the world. A division of Publicis Group, PHCG manages top-tier agencies specializing in promoting innovative solutions in advertising, medical education, sales and marketing, digital, market access, and medical and scientific affairs. With nearly 3,000 employees, PHCG manages 17 agency brands through 45 offices located in 11 countries.

23rd March 2011