LONDON — Two former senior leaders of healthcare specialist Pegasus – recently rebranded as Mind + Matter – have set up their own agency, Stirred, to service clients who want to “positively influence health”.

Jo Spadaccino and Stuart Hehir worked together at Pegasus for 10 years, and both left the firm last summer. They were part of the shareholding team that grew Pegasus from a 20 person, £2m agency to a 140-person, £12m firm, which was acquired by UDG Healthcare in 2016 to become part of its Ashfield Healthcare Communications division.

Spadaccino founded the pharmaceuticals and life sciences team at Pegasus, and Hehir founded the creative and digital services teams. Before Pegasus, Spadaccino led the healthcare team at Cohn & Wolfe, while Hehir founded the consumer team at technology specialist Chameleon.

While there have been numerous new agency launches since the start of the pandemic, very few have been pure healthcare specialists. Spadaccino told PRovoke Media that she and Hehir wanted to “rise to the challenge” presented by the current climate.

“The pandemic has shown us the power of communications in influencing positive health," she said. "Pegasus was a lovely place to be, but you know when it’s time to move onto something fresh. We’ve both been independent consulting for the past year, but we both had it in mind to do something on our own and we’ve always completed each other, so it was a no-brainer, and we're really excited."

Spadaccino said: “The game has changed in healthcare and public awareness so much higher; the ethos of putting health first rather than selling is what’s going to drive good communications and healthier lives. Our philosophy is that we can offer rounded consultancy, with channel-neutral, through-the-line strategy and execution, as a small, ambitious and committed independent, to companies and organisations that really do want to influence health positively.”

Hehir added: “As the world repairs and responds to the needs of today, health has now truly become everyone’s business. Jo and I have always felt a huge weight of responsibility working in health comms and believe that our profession can make a significant difference to health outcomes. There has never been a more opportune moment for fresh thinking and switching things up a bit, and what better way to do that than creating something purpose-built from the ground up”.

Stirred launches with three clients in the pharmaceutical and health research sectors, and is actively recruiting for permanent staff at all levels. Spadaccino said: “At the moment, it’s just two of us with a really good network of talent but we want to build a consistent, connected team to offer long-term client relationships. It won’t just be senior people – we get really excited by young new talent as much as people with years of experience, so we’ll building a traditional structure with a partnership structure around that.”